Book Review: Briar Rose

Briar Rose 
Author: Jana Oliver 
Published By: MacMillan Children's Books 
Publication Date: 12 September 2013 
Page Count: 470 
Source: paperback bought at Waterstones in the UK 
Audience: Young Adult – Fairy Tale/Fantasy

As I have said in other reviews, I love retellings of fairytales. I love seeing what the imagination can do with one. When I saw Briar Rose I knew I had to read it.

Briar Rose is a modern retelling of Sleeping Beauty. It starts off in a sleepy South Georgia town proud of its civil war heritage and quickly enters into a dark and twisted medieval fairy tale world.

Briar Rose is an ordinary 15-year-old girl living in a small town where nothing exciting ever happens. She is sheltered by an over-protective mother who seems to get even more protective as her sixteenth birthday draws nearer. An old family feud keeps her away from her childhood friend, Joshua, even though neither one of them understands why.
Then Briar's ordinary boring life is shattered when her parents tell her a secret. She is cursed and that curse will come to fruition at midnight on her sixteenth birthday, roughly thirty minutes from the time they tell her. As the curse takes hold and she falls asleep, her friends rush to find a way to free her from the curse.

Briar wakes in a different world, filled with dark and horrible things that can only be found in the darkest of imaginations. Ruric, an intriguing stranger, takes pity on her and helps Briar to survive in this strange new land. Her best friend, Reena, Joshua, and Pat, the hottest guy in school, soon join Briar in this twisted fairy tale world. The six join together in a fight against the evil forces holding Aurora, the sleeping princess, a prisoner. They sacrifice everything in their plight to save the princess and break both curses.

I loved this story. Once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down. It has everything a reader could ask for: adventure, intrigue, mystery, romance, fantasy, magic, horror, and more. Even before Briar enters the fairy tale world, there are mysteries and puzzles needing solved. Jana Oliver knows how to captivate and grip a reader from the very beginning of the story and doesn't let go till the end.

I loved the characters. Every single one was well thought out, from the lying ex-boyfriend to the smithy in the fairy tale world. They all seemed to have a purpose, even if it was the smallest of links, in the story. The good guys are loved and the bad guys hated; yet,all of them were interesting to read about.

The imagery is amazing. The fairy tale world is wonderfully described. I love the fantasy creatures that were conjured up and even the magic used for evil. I could easily envision everything Oliver described. As dangerous as this new world seemed, it is one I would love to be able to visit.

One small thing bothered me about this book, though not enough to take away from the actual story. It's not even about the story itself, it's about the synopsis. It says that Briar Rose is cursed to go to sleep for a hundred years on her sixteenth birthday. I don't know if the story changed after the synopsis was written or it's just an oversight, but that was never mentioned in the book. Yes, she is cursed and yes, she falls asleep, but not the way the synopsis claims. What really happens isn't any kind of mind blow, but I won't give away any spoilers. I just like consistency when I'm reading.

The story had the perfect ending for me. I was happy where it ended, but I gladly and eagerly would have read more. I look forward to reading more of her books in the future and picking up the ones she has already published.

One Last Thought: I would have given this book 5 stars if not for the many grammatical errors – mostly missing words – that continuously tripped me up. I found three on one page and I wasn't even looking. They take some of the enjoyment out of the reading. I know it's hard for an author to catch their own mistakes, if they mess up they know what they are trying to say and will easily pass over it. This lies with the copyeditors and more carefully, please.

Favorite Thing About This Book: I love the re-imagining of the fairy tale. It's one of my favorite things to read.

First Sentence: Inch by inch, the strange powder sifts out of the bag behind the silent figure along the journey around the darkened house.

Favorite Character: Briar Rose

Least Favorite Character: The Regent

A dark and sexy reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale from the author of THE DEMON TRAPPERS.

For Briar Rose, life is anything but a fairy tale. She's stuck in a small town in deepest Georgia with parents who won't let her out of their sight, a bunch of small-minded, gossiping neighbours and an evil ex who's spreading nasty rumours about what she may or may not have done in the back of his car. She's tired of it all, so when, on her sixteenth birthday, her parents tell her that she is cursed and will go to sleep for a hundred years when the clock strikes midnight, she's actually kind of glad to leave it all behind. She says her goodbyes, lies down, and closes her eyes . . . And then she wakes up. Cold, alone and in the middle of the darkest, most twisted fairy tale she could ever have dreamed of. Now Briar must fight her way out of the story that has been created for her, but she can't do it alone. She never believed in handsome princes, but now she's met one her only chance is to put her life in his hands, or there will be no happy ever after and no waking up.


  1. Thanks for the great review! You're right, the story did change after the synopsis and it is a bit confusing.

    1. Thank you for writing it and giving me the chance to read it. We met several years ago. I used to work at the Barnes & Noble at the Mall of Georgia. You came in to sign your Demon Trapper books. :)

  2. Hmm, I guess it's all about perspectives. For me, personally I didn't enjoy really the book. I felt it was too cliché, but I can't argue with you on this. But I have to commend Jana Oliver in giving a shot at retelling a classic tale. It's not very easy to do so, and I felt that the clichéd teen melodrama made the story a bit more relatable to teens out there.


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