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I went on a bit of a Neil Gaiman binge at some point over September because I was craving his work and I had a whole bunch of books left by him still left to read, and so read it I did.
And I started with this one.
Let me level with you, I pre-ordered this book because it was illustrated by Chris Riddell and came in a gorgeous slipcase. I also bought it because it’s Neil Gaiman.
I had no idea what the hell it was about. I had no idea what kind of tale I was getting involved in. I just knew that it was relatively short and beautifully illustrated. It also required very little from me as a reader. Which sounds bad and like I wasn’t really absorbing it, but I just mean that it required two hours to get done.
Turns out that it’s a reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, with a dash of Snow White thrown in. It was a delightful little read.
You kind of know from the get go that you’re going to be in that sort of fairy tale realm because it opens with dwarves and then starts as it means to go on. A queen with dark black hair and pale skin, another queen sleeping away whole her kingdom does so too.
I liked that element of it. The idea that the whole kingdom has shut down while this queen sleeps. The idea that once you enter her kingdom you will also fall into a deep slumber and that is why no suitor has succeeded in waking her up. I love the only person who can save her is fellow queen.
There is a twist at the end. One that I am really glad happened, because up until the ending I kind of did not know why that character had made an appearance mid-story until there was pay off. The pay-off was great. I liked that it was a primarily female driven narrative, with the exception of the dwarves. It was basically just about queens’ kicking ass. Always gonna be a fan of that.
The ending. Can we discuss the ending? We all know that I can feel some kind of way when it comes to endings. And I kinda hated this one…I just felt like it was unfinished. And on the one hand I get it, but on the other, I need my endings to be conclusive unless they are part of a series, but even then I need to feel like the story has come to a close whilst also feeling like it has somewhere to go. This didn’t have that. It had one of those open ended things that answered nothing about what the hell she was going to do. Apparently it’s not back to her kingdom. Or at least I don’t think it is…
Final thing I loved. Every character (if memory serves me correctly) in this was nameless. I’m inferring that they were Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, this is never actually said. This is a narrative where you kind of take from it what you want. I love, love, love that.
Would I recommend this book, yes? It’s a great little story and the illustrations are other level as per. It’s great. I like anything that is based in fairy tales and this definitely was that.
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