Curse of the Thirteenth Fey: The True Tale of Sleeping Beauty
by Jane Yolen
In case it has escaped anyone's attention, the better the book is, the more apt I am to stay up to the wee hours of the morning to finish reading it. The more I enjoy reading it, the more likely I am to let it consume all of my time to finish reading it.
I enjoyed reading this a lot.
An amazon summary, "A reimagining of Sleeping Beauty from a master storyteller
Gorse is the thirteenth and youngest in a family of fairies tied to the evil king's land and made to do his bidding. Because of an oath made to the king's great-great-ever-so-many-times-great-grandfather, if they try to leave or disobey the royals, they will burst into a thousand stars.
When accident-prone Gorse falls ill just as the family is bid to bless the new princess, a fairytale starts to unfold. Sick as she is, Gorse races to the castle with the last piece of magic the family has left--a piece of the Thread of Life. But that is when accident, mayhem, and magic combine to drive Gorse's story into the unthinkable, threatening the baby, the kingdom, and all.
With her trademark depth, grace, and humor, Jane Yolen tells readers the "true" story of the fairy who cursed Sleeping Beauty." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE
I'm going to say right now that I greatly dislike how much the book is 'hawked' as The True Tale of Sleeping Beauty. I spent the beginning of the book looking for Sleeping Beauty in any of the characters and to try and draw any similarities between the characters and settings that were presented.
I gave up by the end of chapter two and simply enjoyed reading the book.
As it should be.
The book did get around to the Sleeping Beauty portion of the tale in a very clever way. So if you're reading the book just for that, it's time will come. But you'll have to 'wait' a while, and by 'wait' I mean enjoy the rest of the story.
So the story begins with the birth of Gorse, the thirteenth daughter of the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. Gorse is believed to be 'the One' that will fulfill the prophecy. However, the book points out that rarely do prophecies make sense until after they have come true. I like that notion.
So Gorse is a part fey, part elf; but not just any kind of fey. She is part of the Shouting Fey family. There exists the two more well known fey courts; the Seelie court and the Unseelie court. The Shouting Fey came into existence once royalty from the courts were banished for their love and they were offered refuge by a king into his kind kingdom. The beginnings of the Shouting Fey were happy, kind of.
Just so you know, I'm glossing over a lot of the finer details of such a wondrous story for the sake of not rehashing the entire book. YAY!
Gorse grew up with expectations as she was the thirteenth daughter of the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. As such, she learned to fly early (although she remained clumsy), spoke early, and seemed to have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. She is a delightful main character.
The beginnings of the book elaborate on the Shouting Feys' lifestyle, their history, their traditions, and their kinship. The story focuses a lot on relationships, what it means to trust someone rather than be tied to them by an Oath (Oaths are very serious for Fey), and what family means as well.
With the Shouting Fey, there comes into play the Bidding. The royal family may 'Bid' any of the Shouting Fey to do a task and the Shouting Fey must do it or else risk themselves turning into a thousand stars (think really pretty dust particles).
The King and Queen of the kingdom of their descendants of the first kingdom that let the Shouting Fey stay on their land under their protection so long ago. The descendants have gotten a little bit nastier with each generation though. The Queen has worried that she is barren after going on for a while without producing an heir, and bids an Aunt of the Shouting Fey to grant her wish of having a child. If the Aunt cannot fulfill the bid, she will risk exploding into a thousand stars. The Aunt gathers everything that she can to ensure the Queen produce an heir and after her return it is a waiting game to see if the bid was fulfilled.
A month and a half later, the queen is pregnant. Nine and a half months later, the Queen births a baby girl. The King bids all of the Shouting Fey to deliver blessings and gifts onto the baby girl.
It sounds like the perfect pitch for a Sleeping Beauty story, and it is in a way, just not the way I would expect.
I can't talk about the book much more without delving into spoiler land as the book was 290 pages in length (although it didn't seem like it with how quickly it read) and I'd rather like to leave it unspoiled.
I really enjoyed the concepts in which the Fey operated within and how the magick of the world worked.
I suspect there were a handful of allusions wound into the story that referenced other stories, but I was too eager to finish the story to properly sort out what alluded to what.