The author K.F. Zacharias was kind enough to contact me and offer me an ebook copy of her first novel called Asleep into the Darkness, the first one in the Sleeping Beauty Begins trilogy.
I was curious about this retelling of Sleeping Beauty, especially because a few weeks prior, I watched Maleficent, the new Disney version of the evil queen who curses the Princess into an eternal sleep.
In the middle of a dark night, after a magic ritual, Princess Aurora, destined to possess a great and indestructible power, is taken far away from the castle to protect her from Radassa, known by the people as the Maleficent Queen. The journey across Valescia is full of dangers, mysteries, chases and cursed places.
Years later, when the young woman returns to the castle and meets the other chosen ones, there is a twist in the tale. The Princess must be crowned as queen and take decisions under extreme pressure in order to save the kingdom.
In the midst of conflicts of war, love and power, Aurora faces a surprising and unpredictable revelation that leaves her in a state between life and death.
Quick note: I usually don’t read translations because I prefer reading the original version of a work, with the words that I know the author has chosen, and I usually don’t struggle with that preference since most books I read are either written in English or French, both languages that I use frequently. This book, however, was originally written in Portuguese (I think?) so I had to read the English translation and I had a lot of problems with it. The beginning was a struggle, mostly because I had to get used to it, but it got better as I kept reading. I kept bumping into passages that caught my attention because they were weirdly written, and some sentence structures were just unnatural. I don’t know if it is because the translator wasn’t a native English speaker or if I just personally really disliked his writing style, but one thing was sure, it wouldn’t have been fair to judge the book for its translation. At some point, I was able to mute the language aspect and focus on the actual story.
What I liked:
- This book fulfills its role as the first in a trilogy, in the way that it properly introduces us to the world and the characters with enough details for us to understand the political issues of their society and the internal dilemmas of its people.
- There are a lot of characters and different plots going on, which makes it dynamic and interesting. Usually, a fairy tale is going to concentrate most of its storytelling on 2 main characters. In this story, you get to see a lot of different point of views, the king and queen, the princess, the protectors, even some minor characters. You also get to go back in time and witness scenes of the past that are meant to help you understand the challenges of the present.
- The fantastical elements were quite original, with the concept of ”the four chosen ones” who each had the power to control an element of nature and of “the protector spirits” who made humans immortals.
- An interesting twist at the end, quite unexpected, but I can’t tell without spoiling so you’ll need to read it!
What I had problems with:
- The only issue I had (aside from the translation) was that every chapters kept switching POV characters and where a bit inconsistent. What I mean is that a POV character could have one chapter, then another would have 3 consecutive chapters, then another would have 2, and it would also be a bit confusing when you went into a “past” scene because there was no warning or marker, you just had to figure it out as you read. At some point I was in a chapter for 4 pages before I realized it was many years prior the one before even if it was the same character.
Overall, I would recommend this book to people who love rediscovering classic tales with new elements in them, to people who love fairy tales who include princesses, evil sorceress and prophecies, to people who love action packed and magical stories, and to people who won’t mind the translation. I would have enjoyed it much more if is wasn’t for the writing flaws. The story was good and original. Bravo ! ^^
Happy Reading ! 🙂