Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell

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***I received a copy of the book for free from the author***

RATING: 4/5

SYNOPSIS: A retelling of Sleeping Beauty where after Prince Phillip kissed Princess Aurora he fell asleep too instead of waking Aurora up.

PREVIOUS: A Whole New World

 

I was so excited to read this book because Prince Phillip is my favorite Disney prince and I was interested to see how Brazwell fleshed out his character (she didn’t disappoint). Sleeping Beauty (along with Snow White and Cinderella) is probably the most interesting choice to do this “twisted tale” concept on because there is not much that we know about the characters like we do in the later Disney films. I loved how fully formed Braswell was able to make Phillip and especially Aurora. This was also an improvement over A Whole New World because the twist happened at the end of the events of Sleeping Beauty so it went into the twist straightaway instead of recapping the whole thing for the first few chapters. It was nice to have deliciously evil-for-the-sake-of-being-evil Maleficent and I’m glad Braswell didn’t try to give her a sympathetic backstory. It was interesting how her survival was explained and I liked how she gave Aurora altered memories which was an interesting obstacle for our heroine. I loved how Aurora was conflicted throughout the whole book and she had to overcome personal obstacles and other things that she perceived as her own shortcomings. It made her feel like a real person and gave her depth. I loved how Phillip was steadfast by her side even when she didn’t necessarily want him there. I really loved the moment where he confessed to Aurora things that he did that weren’t so nice from when he was younger because that gave him more depth and I loved that even though he put on a brave face there were moments when he had doubt and was afraid. I also enjoyed that although Phillip saves Aurora a few times, he lets her handle things her own way when necessary and never once feels put out that a girl does something better than him. He only showers her with unconditional love and praise. Which is probably why I had one minor issue. Aurora gets made at him because he “lied” to her about him being a prince. She got mad because he didn’t tell her straight away. Now to me telling someone that I am a princess doesn’t seem like that big a deal and I wouldn’t necessarily tell someone that first thing after just meeting them one afternoon, but maybe I’m wrong and it is a lie. To me it felt like a way to force conflict on Aurora and Phillip’s relationship (personally if I wanted to create conflict between the two then I would give them conflicting ideas on what to do next, Phillip throughout is shown to be a good tactician and Aurora is the one that knows the place better out of the two so it would seem natural that they could get into an argument over something like that) and it just felt petty and silly. I also wished that Aurora’s depression got talked about a bit more because it was a major plot point just about. I would’ve liked some time for that to be unpacked and talked about more (especially between Aurora and Phillip because they have conflicting views on each other’s personalities due to the fact that they’ve only know each other for less than a day). Overall I greatly enjoyed this retelling and I loved how it gave Aurora more agency which is something that she lacks in her movie.

The next book is going to be a retelling of Beauty and the Beast so I’m super excited to see how she twists that one!

This book releases April 5. Pre-order your copy today! Amazon Barnes and Noble

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