4 out of 5 stars.
My first book of 2015!
Sleeping Beauty’s daughter Aurora has been given fairy gifts and a broken kingdom overrun by Ogres hell-bent on bringing about the end of the world. Prince Niklaas, the youngest of the princes from the “Wild Swans” fairy tale must marry before his 18th birthday or get turned into a bird like his brothers. Aurora disguises herself as her brother and promises Niklaas an introduction to his “sister” if he helps raise an army against the ogre threat.
Although this is, from the initial look, a rewrite of several classic fairy tales, most of the story is straight up fantasy, with the fairy tale content mostly relegated to the origin stories of the characters and a couple of allusions. It is a really good fantasy though. While I normally cringe at romance, Ms. Jay’s writing makes it sweet and character appropriate. The ogres are, unusually, portrayed as good looking and clever (take that Tolkein), and the good natured ribbing between Niklaas and Aurora’s male alter ego is funny and touching. There are some darker passages, but the main tone of the book is almost a buddy-buddy, two friends on an adventure style read. Both characters are flawed but fun. Aurora is a strong female lead and Niklaas is cocky, but ultimately good hearted.
Using religious fanaticism as an excuse for attempted genocide is a very topical theme, and ultimately this book is about redemption and love. A great novel to start of 2015 with, and I can’t wait to read more by Stacey Jay.