I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “The Wide-Awake Princess” by E.D. Baker! It’s been a while since I read a fairytale-oriented book, and this one is supposed to be a spin on the classic Sleeping Beauty story. Here’s a quick summary so we know what it’s about:
“In this new stand-alone fairy tale, Princess Annie is the younger sister to Gwen, the princess destined to be Sleeping Beauty. When Gwennie pricks her finger and the whole castle falls asleep, only Annie is awake, and only Annie-blessed (or cursed?) with being impervious to magic-can venture out beyond the rose-covered hedge for help. She must find Gwen’s true love to kiss her awake.
But who is her true love? The irritating Digby? The happy-go-lucky Prince Andreas, who is holding a contest to find his bride? The conniving Clarence, whose sinister motives couldn’t possibly spell true love? Joined by one of her father’s guards, Liam, who happened to be out of the castle when the sleeping spell struck, Annie travels through a fairy tale land populated with characters both familiar and new as she tries to fix her sister and her family . . . and perhaps even find a true love of her own.”
Plot Development: 3 out of 5 stars
I enjoyed reading the quest-oriented story of Annie trying to find a prince to kiss her sister Gwendolyn, also known as Gwen. However, I felt that some of the plot points, including the princess-seeking contest midway through the book, felt present as mere obstacles when they could be easily written out of the story with nothing hugely changing the main story.
Worldbuilding Development: 3.5 out of 5 stars
It was really fun to read how the lack of magic (both bad and good) impacted Annie’s life, as well as how she could easily defeat witches by simply letting them try to cast spells on her and failing to do so (and backfiring, in some cases). The rest of the worldbuilding was fine. It combined some aspects of other fairytales into the main story, such as a Hansel-and-Gretel-esque plot point and another prince who was cursed to be a bear, but there wasn’t anything super-unique other than the Annie lacking magic and how it affected her.
Character Development: 2 out of 5 stars
Annie is the one character, other than the bear prince who is introduced midway through the book, that is a nice person and capable of doing any good. She is also the only character that has any actual development, unlike the rest of the characters. Of course, Liam also plays a role in helping Annie, but he honestly creates more trouble than actual good. It also does not help that Liam kept his identity as a prince hidden for most of the book.
As for Annie’s family, all of them were absolutely awful to her. Gwendolyn acted like a mean girl in highschool to Annie, and the Queen and King were either absent and/or often admonishing towards Annie while spoiling Gwendolyn with affection. I didn’t care for them when they all got cursed, and I know Annie cared enough about her family and their kingdom to go on her quest. However, I don’t think the book did a well-written job of executing the “save-my-family-despite-them-hating my guts” type of plotline it was going for.
Overall, I’m rating this book 3 out of 5 stars!
If you like a twist on fairytales, I think you will enjoy this book. However, if you do not enjoy reading ungrateful and mean family members, as well as most of the characters caring about themselves only, you might want to skip reading this one.
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