Thursday, March 8, 2018

Twist on Sleeping Beauty from CS Johnson

Beauty's Curse (Once Upon a Princess, #1)

Beauty’s Curse
Once Upon A Princes, book one

CS Johnson

January 2016
Dire Wolf Books

Buy on Amazon

Currently, the first book of the 4-book serial story is free.

About the Book

For four years, Princess Aurora of Rhone—Rose to her friends—has searched the world for a way to break the curse placed on her by Magdalina, the wicked ruler of the fairies at war with her kingdom. Under the curse, Rose is doomed to die on her eighteenth birthday after pricking her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel. And time is running out.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Rose makes the journey home with her friends—Theo, a priest with a penchant for revenge; Mary, a young and talented fairy; and Ethan and Sophia, siblings with a troubled past–as pressure from her father, King Stefanos, leaves her with two equally unsatisfying options: Abdicate the throne, or get married.

Enjoy this novella series retelling of the Sleeping Beauty, with new characters, new plot twists, and plenty of action and adventure. Perfect for teen and young adult historical fantasy readers, and check out Part II, "Beauty's Quest," as the story continues!

My review

A caveat: this is not a stand-alone book, but the first of four. It’s a questing story, and this book sets up the search. If you don’t like investing in characters only to fall off a cliff when you turn the last page, the good news is that all the books in the series are available at reasonable prices, at the time of this writing.

Johnson’s twist on the tale of the Grimm’s fairy tale of the Sleeping Beauty, or Briar Rose, is both familiar and new. It’s a hodgepodge of some Disney copycats and a smattering of other tales set in Germanic and Greek-named places. A teenaged lost little cursed princess flees home under the watchful eye of her mother’s guard and her faithful friend knight, Theo, among others. She picks up other lost souls along the way, becomes a self-assured warrior, but reaches the end of her rope when her seventeenth birthday signaling her last year of wakeful life, approaches. Journeying home to meet her father’s challenge of produce an heir before she succumbs to the curse, or formally give up her birthright, spunky Rose chooses her own way—fight the curse, and keep her life her own. The end of book one finds the reader waving farewell to the company of faithful friends off the find a secret weapon.

I enjoyed this story. The characters were finely developed, though I struggled a little with keeping like names apart, such as Theo and Thad, the brothers, and their role. I cheered for all of them, but had to remind myself this is still a new adult story with teenagers who have plenty of growing up to do. Johnson’s blurry line between nice guys and bad guys makes an interesting twist in the old tale. Those who like fun riffs on a familiar romantic tale will enjoy these stories. Mature writing. I read a review copy for Voracious Readers Only.

About the Author
C. S. Johnson is the author of several young adult novels, including sci-fi and fantasy adventures suchas the Starlight Chronicles series, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at

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