Story summary: What would it really be like to be awoken by a kiss from a stranger after sleeping 100 years? Startling, upsetting, lonely, confusing. Aurora awakes to a long-dead family, a marriage with an unknown prince, and future-queenship to a city completely changed from the one she knows--filled with unease and hints of rebellion.
- Focuses on a girl's realistic reaction to the extreme events of a fairy tale.
- The female characters are great; all of the main ones are interesting and complex and not clichéd "strong female characters".
- There were three separate guys with a possibility for romance, which is two too many. This was mitigated by the fact that it became clear she was really not in love with one of them, and romance with another became unlikely due to certain events. But still...
- Despite the inward focus, it is still a fairly light book.
I mentioned above that the female characters were very well done. Aurora herself is confused and scared in a way many YA heroines don't seem to be. She is not kick-ass, and she is not strong and she isn't sure what she wants or what she should do. Although the the queen is unkind, even cruel in many ways, her point of view is respected; she's an unexpectedly complex character. Nettle the musician didn't have many appearances, but she was intriguing all the same. I want to learn more about her and her music.
Not so much for the male characters, unfortunately. Well, I found Prince Rodric interesting, but the King didn't have the complexity of the Queen and both Aurora's main love interests seemed lacking in development to me. They were given superficial complexity, like "nobody knows what his motivations are" and "he's actually a rebel", but nothing surprised or delighted me as it did for the women. (This was probably a big reason why the romance was overmuch for my taste.) I do think there's still potential in the sequel, however. She did well enough on the female characters that I could see the change of location and the greater emphasis on Prince Finnegan could deepen his characterization at least.
Note about the cover: I actually really like it, and that surprises me. Normally a picture of a live (non-illustrated) girl in a fancy dress is one of my least preferred covers. But this one is different for some reason. I think the colour scheme is a big part of that.