Book Review: Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters

I’ve been meaning to read more fairy tale retellings, so of course I snatched Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters by Diane Zahler off the shelf at the library. I’ve already read two previous retellings by Zahler (Princess of the Wild Swans and The Thirteenth Princess), and was curious to see where she would go in this one.

The story focuses on Aurora and Luna, two princesses who have lived in seclusion all their lives. Near the beginning of the book, they learn that this is because their parents are trying to protect them. Their mother is Sleeping Beauty, who fell under her curse, to be awakened after a hundred years by their father. The evil fairy who cursed their mother has renewed the curse on Aurora too, dooming her to sleep for a hundred years and awake alone. When Aurora pricks her finger and begins the curse, she must struggle against Sleep to go on a desperate quest with Luna, in search of the fairy godmother who may be able to help her.

Similar to Princess of the Wild Swans, I thought this was an excellent book for middle grade readers…but a little lacking in tension for me as an adult reader. The characters’ struggles didn’t feel quite hard enough. Aurora discovers a tea that will help her remain wakeful, mostly solving that problem for most of the book, and the girls meet allies almost everywhere they go to help on their quest.  On the other hand, I do love that they go on a quest.  Much better than just sleeping and waiting for a prince to solve everything!

This was a fun, light read overall. I liked Aurora and Luna, especially in their differences. Luna is always the mischievous trouble-maker, while Aurora is the peacemaker and responsible one. Over the course of their quest, both girls learn more about themselves and realize those simple labels aren’t as true as they thought. I also enjoyed how well they balanced each other, and the strength of their relationship as sisters.

I would have liked more about their mother, and how the curse affected her, and her daughters by extension. We do hear that she was far more confident and strong-willed before the curse, and has now turned fearful and cautious—and I wish that had been more explored, along with how it affected Aurora especially (who takes more after her mother).

I did have one somewhat serious issue with the book…and it was the cover that led me astray! Looking at the two girls, I concluded that Aurora was a teenager, and Luna was perhaps ten. When Aurora pricks her finger, I assumed she must be sixteen, because that’s when these things happen (even though the book said that wasn’t guaranteed). Finally, in the last couple of chapters, I find out that Aurora is twelve. And that…is kind of a significant difference (though it does explain a really odd scene with a potential love interest who plans to court her when she grows up) It’s possible the age was said earlier and I missed it…

Despite some reservations, I did have fun reading this book!  If you know a middle grade reader who’s the right target age, I’d highly recommend it because I doubt I would have seen anything lacking at that age. If you’re older, I’d recommend it with some reservations. And regardless of your age, keep in mind that Aurora is younger than the cover shows!

Author’s Site:

Other reviews:
There’s a Book
Creative Madness Mama
Anyone else?

Buy it here: Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Sleeping Beauty’s Daughters

  1. dianem57

    You mention that “Aurora discovers a tea that will help her remain wakeful, mostly solving that problem for most of the book.” I take it there are no Starbucks in the land where the daughters live. If that were the case, Aurora’s problem would also be over since a daily dose of their caffeinated beverages would keep her awake and alert for her quest! 🙂 Sounds like a good read for the right age group, but I wonder what the illustrator was thinking in making the lead character look so much older on the cover.

  2. I too read this book and found it not as satisfying as the others I’ve read-“The Thirteenth Princess” and “A True Princess.” It seemed to me like Zahler just got caught up in combining it with the Odyssey and the tale just didn’t combine well with the epic, as it worked when she combined two fairy tales together in “A True Princess.” None of the characters felt as developed to me as in the other works and I totally agree that the quest didn’t have the same impact. I think I also made that assumption about age, but after learning that she’d had no interactions with other people I figured her maturity in social relations was younger, so the 12 reveal didn’t faze me much. I also wanted more about Aurora, and why she had to lie down more after that experience-I think I would stay out of bed as long as possible! Great review.

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