This novel, which I had never heard of before, was a present from my boyfriend. Why did I have to read it pretty much right away? Fairy tale retelling!
In Lickiss' charming, clever, and surprisingly substantial slice of fictional cake, Princess Vevila, having had enough of dancing with doltish prospective husbands, would rather seek out adventure. Meanwhile her cousin, Prince Althelstan, has fought through yards of brambles into a somnolent castle to discover three sleeping princes instead of one spellbound princess. "It has to have been a transcription error," he muses, just as he notices a slender beauty dozing near the throne. Captivated, Althelstan decides to inveigle his cousin into waking the princes, which, he hopes, will simultaneously free the object of his affection. Aiding Althelstan are three recent graduates of magical Recondite University, all gearing up to confront the witch who, claiming to be protecting the innocent princes, cast the sleeping spell. Figure in a mysterious little man with mismatched clothing and handfuls of gold, and an insecure princess with two sallow stepsisters, and, well, you see where we're headed. A welcome addition to the fractured fairy tale genre and perfect reading for the beach or an air-conditioned castle bedroom.
In the sub-script to the title, it says "Not just another frog-meets-girl story". And it was rather different. Some of the fairy tales present in the novel are Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, The Frog Prince (which I just read for Fairy Tales Revisited), Rumplestilskin (I am going to have to look that word up), and more. The story goes that a prince has been informed that he can only marry a princess, but the only princess available is 2-years-old, and thus not right for him. He hears of a sleeping castle, though, and a princess that needs to be awoken by a kiss. He sets off to search the castle in the hopes that he will find the woman that he is meant to marry. The problem is that an "s" was added, because there is not a princess waiting for him, but not one, but three princes. This presents a problem.
The young prince, though, has a solution. There is a woman in the castle that he is sure is a princess, so he goes and gets his cousin to wake the princes so that the castle will awake and he can marry the young princess. Along the way he collects three wizards, that really add to the story. Unfortunately for our young prince, the fairy godmother that locked the princes up in the first place does not want them to have to face the cruel world, so she tries to put a stop to it. The princes cousin, Vevila, also proves to be a problem when she is forced into a dark chamber and told to make straw into gold. Sound familiar? Unlike the original tale, though, Vevila tries to escape several times. She is not interested in getting married, she is there for the adventure.
While all of this is going on, 4 more young girls enter the story. One other is put to the princess test, where we witness a girl who has to sleep on a great pile of mattresses. Can we guess what the goal is? Then, there is a large ball in order for an older woman to find husbands for her daughters. The ball is crashed, though, by a mysterious young woman. Know what fairy tale that is?
All in all, I thought this book was a very refreshing retelling of some of my favourite fairy tales. It is a relatively short read, but enjoyable. I suggest it if you are into fairy tales, you will not be disappointed.