Book Review: A Wicked Thing
By: Rhiannon Thomas
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Page Count: 352
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Fantasy, Fairy Tale Inspired
Sleeping Beauty has always been one of my favorite fairy tales. I loved the idea of a princess being preserved through time as she slept - never aging, staying youthful and beautiful - until the moment when her true love kissed her gently. It was the height of romance for my young self. The Disney version also made this story seem like a girl's dream come true. I wanted that sort of romance when I got older. But what if Sleeping Beauty didn't get her happy ending? What if Sleeping Beauty didn't really need a guy to rush in to save the day? Perhaps there is more to Aurora than anyone has ever known.
A Wicked Thing takes the Sleeping Beauty lore and spins it on its head. Aurora is not the sweet, innocent damsel in distress from past tales. She is headstrong and brave. Even the notion of romance takes a backseat in this one; Prince Rodric who awakens Aurora from her 100 year slumber is not her true love. Sure, the two of them get along and form a friendship, but there are no sparks flying between these two. I couldn't decide if I was let down by this or impressed by Thomas' vision for this tale. In the end, I thought it was an interesting route to take because it allowed Aurora to form as a new character in my mind who was unhindered by her previous incarnations. It also made me stop and think about the great injustice that is done to Aurora. Everyone just expects her to be this sweet, dainty thing who falls into Rodric's arms and does whatever she is told. I didn't like that she had no say in her life or future. Aurora's experiences harken back to the days of arranged marriages based on political strategies.
Aurora has two other possible love interests in this one, but I was happy to see that she never truly chooses anyone. It was a welcome change to see a novel driven by a strong female that didn't involve a love triangle or vast amounts of romantic drama. This novel is more about Aurora finding her own spirit and learning to make her own choices. The road to this conclusion is a difficult one - for both the reader and Aurora. The first 30% of the novel is painfully slow. I felt like nothing was moving the story forward. I became tired of watching everyone boss Aurora around while she tried to figure out the best course of action. Eventually the pace quickened and that was when the story truly sunk its claws into me.
I suppose I was most shocked to find that I didn't view this version of Aurora as the romantic tale of my childhood. Instead I found that this one felt more like a tragedy. In the Disney version, when Sleeping Beauty awakes, the entire kingdom - including her family - awake as well and everyone lives happily ever after. In this version, Aurora is the only survivor. Everyone she knew and loved is long dead when she opens her eyes for the first time in one hundred years. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to go to sleep in one moment and lose everything you've known in the next. A sadness permeates Aurora as she learns to navigate through a new world. In spite of his missteps in the beginning, I have to admire Aurora's gumption and sense of adventure.
Overall, I enjoyed A Wicked Thing. I never thought to wonder what happened after the kiss. Like many, I always assumed she lived happily ever after, but in some ways, I prefer Thomas' version. Aurora isn't just a pretty face who follows directions and adheres to gender stereotypes. She becomes someone who fights for what is right and follows her heart. Like a colt, she is a little wobbly and unsure of herself at first, but once she roots her legs on solid ground, she is a force to be reckoned with. This Sleeping Beauty has her eyes wide open.
One Last Gripe: I still have a lot of questions concerning the magic and the curse.
Favorite Thing About This Book: Aurora's character development
First Sentence: She woke up with a kiss.
Favorite Character: Aurora
Least Favorite Character: The King
Rhiannon Thomas's dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.
One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.
Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.
As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.
Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.