Review: While Beauty Slept

ImageTitle: While Beauty Slept

Author: Elizabeth Blackwell

Rating: ★★★★★

Provided Synopsis: A beautiful princess lies in a sleep so deep it is close to death. Was Sleeping Beauty revived by a prince’s kiss? What really happened in that tower so long ago? 

While Beauty Slept re-imagines the legend through the lens of historical fiction, telling the story as if it really happened. A Gothic tale of suspense and ambition, love and loss, it interweaves the story of a royal family and the servants who see behind the glamorous facade, following the journey of a young woman as she lives out a destiny that leads her to the brink of death.

Review: To sum it up, the fine storytelling of While Beauty Slept captivated me. The story begins as an aged woman overhears her great-granddaughter telling the story of Sleeping Beauty to her younger siblings. As a perceptive child, she recognizes her elder relative’s reaction to the story and through actions is able to draw out the true story of what took place a long time ago in a kingdom very far away.

Elise had lived in poverty with her family on a farm, but when disaster strikes she takes to the road to the castle in search of a place as a servant at court. While she might start in a lowly position, she quickly rises up the serving hierarchy to become the personal assistant of Queen Lenore and to catch the eye of the King’s aged aunt, Millicent. For years the King and Queen have struggled to have a child; the uncertainty of the line of succession brings about rivalries and the beginning clamors of war. And when the Queen does, finally, give birth, the day does not go as planned for Millicent, at all. The King throws her from the castle, and she returns to curse the family and the Princess Rose. Have you recognized the story? Do you think you know where it will go?

Magic is not a factor in While Beauty Slept. Instead, this is a tale of the clash been the good and the evil, with these hatreds being formed through the makings of pride. Elise sees it all, and her narrative voice enthralled me from the very start. I could not get enough of this tale, this kingdom, or the people. The tone was dark, and Elise offers plenty of ominous foreshadowing spoken to the audience. For how could a young princess ever come onto the other side of her ordeal unscathed? And better yet, how can those who have witnessed the destruction that has come to pass do so either?

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