As soon as this title popped up on Net Galley, I knew I had to read it (so, thanks Egmont!). The description for it sounds like a YA version of the show Once Upon a Time, which I just can’t get enough of! And I love the cover and the title, which definitely promised more of a dark fairy tale edge than a Disney one.
It’s about Mira, a girl brought up by two godmothers who refuse to ever talk about her parents. At Mira’s christening, there was a fire that claimed the lives of her parents. Whenever Mira brings up the town her parents died in, her godmothers change subjects. So, Mira decides to run away a week before her 16th birthday, to see the town and hopefully find closure with the death of her parents.
The town is called Beau Rivage, and it’s filled with fairy tale themed hotels, casinos, and restaurants. On her first night there, Mira is rescued by one gentlemanly teenage boy and one blue-haired punk. Unfortunately, the two boys do not succeed in pulling Mira away from Blue’s brother, the mysterious Felix. It’s so much fun to see modern day fairy tale teen replicas. My favorite characters were Freddie (the prince), Blue (of course), and then their friends who are supposed to be Belle and the Beast. I kept hoping to catch glimpses of other tales, and I was never disappointed. There were so many fairy tale characters everywhere in this book; I was not disappointed.
And like I guessed from the beginning, these tales are dark. Mira soon learns she’s part of the cursed. She was cursed as a baby to have to follow the fate of Sleeping Beauty. And as the mystery of her parents, the love triangle she has between her and two very dark brothers, and the curses of her new friends all unfold, Mira’s hyper-aware of all sharp objects, constantly afraid of the one thing that will trigger her extended sleep.
Mira learns a lot of secrets her godmothers kept from her. She learns even more about death. And so much of the book is about fighting against fate, and making your own destiny. There was a very interesting portrayal of fairies. And I loved learning about some lesser-known fairy tales. Everything had a dark twist to it. Like how a lot of girls cursed to be Snow White are fated to live their lives drugged, because the princes who found them, fell in love with them when they were unconscious and can’t love them as much when their “lively.” There’s also the huntsman who’s in love with Snow White, but knows that one day he’ll be asked to remove her heart.
There’s creatures that feed on love, bad wolves who like to torture people, girls who’ve taken things from three bears, and so many fun stories woven together to make this one story what it is. I loved all the side characters, and watching them all handle their curses in their own ways. Mira rushes to discover who she is before her birthday, because 16th birthdays are big for the cursed. There’s parties, concerts, beach time, sizzling romance, and lots of mystery before Mira gets the answers she needs.
I had a lot of fun reading this one. There were just two things that bothered me. One, Mira was just not that interesting. She was a relatively boring, needy main character who despite a few wise cracks to blue, never really stuck up for herself. And I get that Sleeping Beauty needs to be rescued by a prince and a kiss. But, I was constantly hoping for a stronger, more modern Sleeping Beauty.
I only got small glimpses into who Mira really was and I just never cared that much for her because I never really got to know her. And the boys certainly didn’t know her that well either. They all fell for her right away, which I guess is the norm in fairy tales…but still. I liked that Blue seemed to at least understand her, but he definitely loved her first. I get that a lot of this is made to be fairy tale like, but not all of the book is strictly fairy tale, and I wish this part was more modern and less of a Disney-love-at-first-sight kind of romance.
The other thing that didn’t stand so believable to me was Mira’s relationship with her godmothers. She never really thought of them as parents, which I find strange considering she never knew hers. And knowing later that her godmothers were actually fairies (sorry for a tiny spoiler) makes it that much harder for me to believe they couldn’t find Mira immediately after she ran away. And if they knew where she was, but decided she had to figure some things out on her own, that would conflict with the whole thing about not letting her do anything (literally, she wasn’t allowed to shave her legs!). And something should have been said about this at the end.
All in all, despite not really knowing Mira and feeling like her relationship with her godmothers was rather fake, I did love this book. The idea was amazing! The side characters were so interesting! And everything did tie together so well. I give it a 8/10. And I would definitely read a sequel if the author chose to write one.