Review: Dreamer of Briarfell

Lucy Tempest's Fairy Tales of Folkshore series had a rocky start for me with the Thief of Cahraman trilogy. I'm glad I gave her books another chance because I loved her "Cinderella" retelling, Princess of Midnight. Now, she has a new book that combines "Sleeping Beauty" and "Robin Hood," which is one of the best "Sleeping Beauty" retellings I have ever read. Dreamer of Briarfell resolves the most common issues with developing "Sleeping Beauty" into a full-length novel while still remaining true to the roots of the fairy tale. The biggest obstacle an author has to face with adapting this story is finding a way for the princess to fall in love with the prince when she is asleep for the most important part of her adventure. I've seen some creative solutions to this issue, but none quite so clever as what Lucy Tempest did. This is by far my favorite book in the Fairy Tales of Folkshore series.

Dreamer of Briarfell by Lucy Tempest

Dreamer of Briarfell tells the story of Princess Fairuza, Adelaide's rival in the original trilogy. Fairuza is Folkshore's version of Sleeping Beauty, cursed to die before the sun sets on her eighteenth birthday. A botched amendment to the spell from an attempt to save her resulted in her spirit separating from her body when the curse took effect. Fairuza awakens in a castle where her brother brought her unconscious body for safekeeping and realizes to her horror that no one can see or hear her. She is caught in a ghost-like state between life and death and helplessly floats through the halls until a handsome rogue shows up who can miraculously communicate with her. When she tells him about her plight, he agrees to help her and allows her to join him on his quest to the enchanted land of Faerie in her ghost-like form. Along the way, she is reunited with her two handmaidens, who she learns had a larger part in amending her curse than she initially realized. The only problem is that the rogue who is determined to save her is also quest of his own to rescue his beloved Maid Marian.

From the very beginning of the book, Fairuza and Robin see each other in ways that no one else can. She encounters him prior to her curse at a masked ball where he saves her from the threat of a werewolf. For a large portion of the story, he is forced to act as her interpreter because he is the only one who can communicate with her. Fairuza has little interest in the heroic stories of Robin Hood that had grown popular throughout the land, so she sees Robin as a person first and a hero second. Her quest to find a fairy king to proclaim his love for her and break her spell is heartbreaking when it is crystal clear from the beginning that Robin Hood is perfect for her. Fairuza believes that marrying a noble man is the only way to break her curse, and a thieving rogue seems to be the furthest thing possible, regardless how strongly she feels toward him. His loyalty to Marian poses an even bigger threat.

This book does a terrific job of expanding upon the mythology within the Fairy Tales of Folkshore series. It incorporates Greek mythology with the Underworld, which will be explored further in Folkshore's upcoming adaptation of "The Little Mermaid." It also makes references to the earlier books in the series by bringing back characters like Bonnie from Beast of Rosemead and Beauty of Rosemead and expands upon how everyone is related through various relatives in the land of Faerie. I love the dichotomy between the human world of Folkshore and the magical world of Faerie, where time moves differently and everyone is a magical being. The main characters from Folkshore always start out knowing little about magic and travel to Faerie and learn that they are much closer to the magic than they could have ever realized. In this case, Fairuza must learn to give up her prejudices against fairy people like her brother Leander did before her when she learns that many of the people she cares about are part of that race. It's a beautiful lesson on tolerance in a detailed fantasy setting.

I highly recommend Dreamer of Brairfell to anyone who enjoys fairy tales. It is a beautiful love story with excitement and adventure waiting on every page. I never wanted to put this book down. Turning Fairuza into a ghost was the perfect solution to the issue of Sleeping Beauty being asleep for the majority of her story. Incorporating the rich mythology of Robin Hood into her love interest was a clever twist that made his side of the story that much more intriguing. I loved the idea of Sleeping Beauty going on an adventure with her rescuers to offer advice to pass the trials they needed to do in order to save her. In a way, it gave her a chance to save herself, but she couldn't do it alone. For me, this was the perfect reimagining of a somewhat outdated fairy tale.

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