AUTHOR: ANNE RICE (writing as A.N.
Details: no. 1 Sleeping Beauty
This review comes with a “for adults only” warning.
Few people will be unfamiliar with the fairytale in which a beautiful princess has to sleep for 100 years before a handsome prince will come to awaken her.
And that is pretty much how this story starts, except that the handsome prince doesn’t awaken the beautiful princess with a kiss but by taking her virginity.
The next day the prince tells Beauty and her parents that he is claiming the princess and will take her to his mother’s kingdom for training. Although the king and queen object initially, they allow the prince to take their daughter with him after they are reminded how they themselves had been trained there and how they had benefitted from it.
For Beauty this is the start of an ordeal. She is stripped naked and made to travel with the prince like that, on full view of everybody they encounter. She is also often and ferociously spanked and slapped, both in private and in public.
Once in the castle this “training” of Beauty is continued and not just by the prince. This is the start of a period during which Beauty will discover things about her self she could never have guessed at; a period that will end with a wilful and unexpected act of rebellion.
I’m not quite sure what to say about this book.
It is a very well written story, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from Anne Rice. It also seems to be lacking in imagination though. The endless spanking became quite tedious after the first 150 pages or so.
On the other hand I did like the way the sexual awakening of Beauty is described. The way in which her confusion, despair and shame were conveyed was convincing. I also like that Anne Rice doesn’t over-explain Beauty’s thoughts and emotions; the reader gets her confused thoughts as they pop into Beauty’s head and has to work with her in order to discover exactly what it is she’s experiencing. This creates a certain tension in the story because the reader is as unsure of what Beauty is really feeling as the girl herself is.
This book also has me wondering if the author gets away with things I might not have accepted in another story because this book is basically a fairytale. And fairytales have always been allowed to depict horrific scenes (wicked step-mothers, children abandoned by their parents, cannibalism) provided there is a happy ending.
I also wonder if that might be one of the reasons the author used the form of a fairytale for this story?
Of course I’ve no idea whether or not this story will have a happy ending, since this is the first book in a trilogy. And I guess I will read all of them because the author has made me curious about Beauty and her princes, and I can’t help wondering where she might take this story next.