Review: The Enchanted Rose by R.M. ArceJaeger

The next book on my "Sleeping Beauty" recommendation list was The Enchanted Rose by R.M. ArceJaeger. This book is an adaptation of both "Sleeping Beauty" and "Beauty and the Beast" in equal parts. After reading the description, I wondered how Beauty could fall in love with the Beast if she was asleep, but the book wisely saved her sleeping curse until the end. While "Beauty and the Beast" adaptation overpowers much of the middle section of the book, the author still manages to expand on the "Sleeping Beauty" elements by making a good chunk of the opening section about the lives of the fairies, how the princess and prince were cursed as babies, and the kings and queens' reactions to the curse. I must also commend this book for being extremely thorough. It doesn't waste a single page dragging out an individual character's storyline. Instead, it fleshes out the emotional arc of everyone involved equally.

The Enchanted Rose by R.M. ArceJaeger

Like most "Sleeping Beauty" adaptations, The Enchanted Rose begins with the christening of the newborn princess, where several fairies have arrived to present their gifts. This book does not merely use the fae as plot devices, however. Instead, it assigns personalities, hopes, dreams, and motivations behind each fairy's decision, creating a more complete understanding of why Sleeping Beauty's curse turned out the way it did. Not only does it expand on the perspectives of the fairies in attendance, but the book also cleverly inserts fictional thesis articles in between each chapter to create a stronger understanding of the fairies' history and how their magic works. Moraga, the wicked fairy who curses the princess to die on her 21st birthday, is a rare form of fae known as a "ghastly," a wicked breed that is thankfully dying out in this enchanted kingdom. An act of greed on the king's part forces the adult fairies to use up their magic before they have an opportunity to reverse the curse on the young princess, leaving that responsibility in the hands of a child fairy named Liliath, who has a sweet crush on the cursed prince, Ari.

Anyone who is familiar with the story of "Beauty and the Beast" knows that Beauty was not raised in a castle. That difference was likely the first challenge that the author faced in her attempt to combine it with "Sleeping Beauty," who is a princess in almost every version of her story. She gets around this obstacle by having the fairies lose the newborn royal in their attempt to save her from Moraga. The baby princess is then discovered by a merchant, who adopts her and raises her in the same manner as the "Beauty" character we are familiar with. Everyone knows what happens next. One day, the merchant gets lost in the woods and happens upon an enchanted castle, where he attempts to take a rose for his daughter, who he appropriately named Rose. The beastly master of the castle is angered by this act of theft and demands that the merchant either becomes his prisoner or brings Rose to live there in his place.

My favorite new character in this story is the fairy, Liliath, who was with Prince Ari when he was cursed to become a beast and devotes the rest of her life to finding a way to break his curse. It is she who enchants his castle so that he can be as comfortable as possible during his years of captivity. She reminds me of rival love interests from Saban cartoons of old who usually have darker hair and are misguided in their actions. For most of the book, I wanted Liliath to end up with Ari instead of Rose because she seemed more deserving of his love, but I was glad that she didn't come to a tragic end like many of these types of characters tend to do. Even though The Enchanted Rose uses up a lot of pages focusing on the parents, most of the adults in this story are wholly unlikable, and many of the tragic circumstances could have been prevented if they had made different decisions. Perhaps this is why the characters who are children in the first section of the book--Rose, Liliath, and Ari, are so much easier to relate to and root for.

The Enchanted Rose is a well-thought-out retelling of both "Sleeping Beauty" and "Beauty and the Beast" that leaves no stone unturned when it comes to worldbuilding or character development. I was impressed by the ease with which the author was able to combine both of these beloved fairy tales in a way that doesn't take any of the major elements away from either one. Another gem in this book is the "scientific" articles about how the fairies function in this society, which makes it easy to understand their decisions and lives without a heavy amount of exposition. The Enchanted Rose is a must-read for lovers of unique fairy tale adaptations.

Comments

Emma said…
I am so glad you liked this book that I suggested. It was actually what introduced me to self-published fairy tale retellings. It’s such a good story which combines the stories of Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty so flawlessly. It means a lot to me that read some of my suggestions. I hope you enjoy the other books I recommend you.
Thanks
Emma (E.V.A are actually my initials)
Lisa Dawn said…
Thanks, Emma! If you are interested in self-published novels, feel free to check out some of my books at http://lisadawnbooks.wixsite.com/lisadawn if your haven't already. Take care!

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