I really enjoyed this retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Anna Maria Mendell creates a real old-fashioned fairy tale - and when I say ‘old-fashioned’, I mean it in a good way. I mean that there’s a quality of Faery-ness that hearkens back to the fairy tales of old. The author acknowledges her indebtedness to George Macdonald in her work, and this novel did remind me very much of George Macdonald’s Victorian fantasy writings. Macdonald’s fairy tales were an influence on C.S Lewis, who in turn was an encourager of Tolkien in his writing. All three authors strove to capture that essence of Faery romance - that glimpse and sense of another world - in their fantasy writings - a longing to ‘hear the horns of Efland’, to quote Lewis (quoting Tennyson).
The story is told in the form of a story within a story that weaves the tales of the two main characters: Rosa, the sleeping beauty, and Erik - the prince who will awaken her. Through the intertwining narratives we ‘watch’ both characters grow up from childhood to adulthood, though their lives are hundreds of years apart.
The princess’s story is recounted as a legend of old to the young prince Erik. But Erik not only hears of the legendary sleeping princess, he is also haunted by dreams and visions of her throughout his childhood and youth. Both characters interact with the fairy world, and are helped by fairy folk; both characters have difficult childhoods; there are curses to break, trials to endure, vital lessons of character to be learned - and even when they finally find one another - it seems the problems have just begun! But all ends just as it should - with a happy ever after. Phew!
A great retelling - full of mysterious settings and magical beings - I could hear 'the horns of Efland faintly blowing' in the distance...'