Review: Kingdom of Slumber

Before she started the inspired Singer Tales series, Deborah Grace White had another series of fairy tale retellings called The Kingdom Tales. This series took some time to find its voice, but I think it found it with Kingdom of Slumber, a retelling of "Sleeping Beauty" with a twist. In this interpretation of the often-retold tale, the princess is cursed to fall into an enchanted sleep during the day, while the rest of the kingdom sleeps all night without ever knowing that she is awake. In addition to its creative twist, the book boasts a beautiful romance and a guest appearance from the dragon Rekavidur, who travels across each Kingdom Tales book as well as Deborah Grace White's original mermaid series, The Vazula Chronicles. Up to this point, I hadn't enjoyed the Kingdom Tales as much as her newer Singer Tales, but this book had a certain something missing from others I've read so far.

Like many princesses before her, Princess Azalea was born into a marriage alliance with Prince Bentleigh from a foreign kingdom. The two royals grew up together and formed a strong bond, but Azalea always resented her parents for making such an important decision for her before she was ready. She came to regret her resentment on her sixteenth birthday when the curse her wicked uncle had placed on her at birth was enacted, separating the young lovers for two years. During that time, the kingdom despaired Azalea's enchanted sleep each day, while Azalea woke up each night in frustration as the curse prevented her from leaving any signs for her loved ones that she was not asleep all the time. With no one to talk to and nothing else to do, she spent each night fighting off the vines that attacked her kingdom as a side effect of the curse. Little did she know that after two years, someone with ill intent would find a way to enter the sleeping kingdom at night during her waking hours.

What stands out about this book is the way that the curse is handled. Instead of a wicked fairy who tried to murder a newborn princess because she was angry about not being invited to the christening, this book had a male villain with a stronger motivation. Mortimer is a jealous cousin of the king who believes he should have been the rightful heir to the throne and husband to the queen. Cursing the princess is only a means to an end in which he plans to take the kingdom for himself. His spite over the events that took place before Azalea was born serves as a logical explanation for inciting the curse. Another great addition is the way that the curse was altered. Instead of another fairy, the curse is amended by Mortimer's twin brother, Montgomery, in a last-ditch attempt to save Azalea's life. He didn't expect that his alteration would put the rest of the kingdom into an enchanted slumber and did not know how to break the curse, giving Prince Bentleigh a hearty challenge when he decided to save Azalea no matter what it took.

Both Bentleigh and Azalea are fully fleshed-out heroes with strengths and weaknesses. Azalea does not wait patiently for someone to break the curse as she builds strength each night in fighting off the vines, and Bentleigh is a dashing "knight in shining armor" who can never be bested by another blade. Still, the two have insecurities that they must help each other work through. Azalea is ashamed that she hesitated when Bentleigh tried to confess his feelings toward her on the night of the curse because she had never considered just how much he meant to her. Meanwhile, Bentleigh must fend off pushback from his parents when they decide to end the marriage alliance due to the very real possibility that Azalea may never wake up. The romance in this book is heartwarming as the two never give up on each other and rely on each other's support to get through difficult times. It demonstrates the difficulties that some people have expressing what is in their hearts.

In Deborah Grace White's Kingdom Tales series, Kingdom of Slumber stands out as a captivating retelling of "Sleeping Beauty" that introduces a unique twist to the familiar tale. The story's creative reimagining, which features Princess Azalea cursed to eternal wakefulness during the night while her kingdom sleeps through the day, adds depth and complexity to the narrative. The character dynamics, particularly between Azalea and her betrothed Prince Bentleigh, are skillfully portrayed, with each facing personal challenges and insecurities that they must overcome together. The book's antagonist, Mortimer, presents a compelling and well-motivated villain, offering a fresh perspective on the origin of the curse. Through its engaging characters, intricate plot, and heartfelt romance, Kingdom of Slumber demonstrates the author's adept storytelling and marks a noteworthy addition to the Kingdom Tales series.


Sugar said…
Speaking of sincere romance...although it is not a princess movie, the couple that forms has a good heart and I thought it was a very beautiful relationship. The girl makes a sacrifice worthy of a princess at one point: Mune Guardian of the Moon.
I highly recommend the movie.
Lisa Dawn said…
Oh yes, I've seen that before. It was interesting...

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