Review: Dreams of Roses

Celeste Baxendell has been on a role with her Bewitching Fairy Tales series. Her "Cinderella" retelling from last year remains my favorite "Cinderella" adaptation of all time. Now, she is tackling "Sleeping Beauty" with her latest book, Dreams of Roses. This book stands out from the others in this series as the first one that does not tell a complete story. It ends on a cliffhanger that is teased to conclude in her next book, Thorns of Gold. I find it frustrating when authors do this, and this book was no exception. It felt like it took a very long time for anything to happen, and as soon as something finally did, it ended abruptly. Still, the book offers some unique twists on the classic "Sleeping Beauty" fairy tale.

Dreams of Roses applies the "lost princess" trope to "Sleeping Beauty." Ro had a pretty good life. She was engaged to a prince and was about to become empress of a great nation. The only problem was the curse that was placed on her as a baby to prick her finger on the thorn of a rose and fall into a deathlike sleep. To avoid this, she was given a pair of magical pink gloves that would allow nothing to pierce through her hands, which made her feel brave and invincible. She grew up as a typical warrior princess determined not to let the curse get the better of her. What did her in instead was learning the truth about her lineage. Ro had been lied to her entire life. She was actually the lost princess Rosalia and was being manipulated into marrying her fiancĂ© so his kingdom could lay claim over the land that was rightfully hers.

The characters were a big selling point made this book a pleasant reading experience. Ro is an interesting take on the modern princess who doesn't need to be rescued despite knowing that she's under a curse which could easily turn her into a classic damsel in distress. She spends the majority of the book being conflicted about her identity after learning and trying to decide whether she wants to keep being Lady Rowan because it's familiar or to learn more about Princess Rosalia, even though she feels little connection to that life. Her love interest, Midas, is equally interesting. Cursed with the golden touch, Midas is afraid to get close to anyone in case he accidentally kills them by turning them to gold. He covers his body in chain mail and fabric to avoid any unpleasant accidents and spends most of his time angsting over his family's curse.

I didn't realize just how much of this story was being saved for the sequel, Thorns of Gold until I reached the end. It felt like it was taking a very long time for anything to happen, and that was the reason. The book lost a lot of its intrigue after realizing that it did not have an at least somewhat satisfying resolution. In fact, the thing that I was waiting for didn't even happen until the last page. So much of it felt like filler that I got bored several times throughout the story. The only thing that hold my interest was the torrid relationship between Ro and Midas that was held back by their curses. It didn't help that a lot of it was a war story between Ro and her fiancĂ©'s kingdoms, and war stories are simply not my cup of tea.

Though Dreams of Roses is not the best "Sleeping Beauty" adaptation, it does present some interesting ideas, particularly by pairing her up with Midas, who is unable to touch anyone without killing them. It has a typical modern heroine and follows the traditional "lost princess" trope with themes of identity and family. I got the feeling that the story could have been told in one book instead of two, which would have improved the pacing issues. At this point, there's nothing left to do but wait until Thorns of Gold comes out to see how everything gets resolved.


Anonymous said…
This story combines Sleeping Beauty with King Midas. The latter of which is a Greek myth.

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