A Wicked Thing
Genre: Fantasy, Retellings, YA
Publication date: February 24, 2015
One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.
Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.
As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.
-A copy was provided by HarperTeen for review-
Have you ever wondered what happened after Sleeping Beauty woke up from her slumber? Pondered if she really did live a “happily ever after”?
Well, A Wicked Thing is here to tell you that story. At least… one of the possibilities, anyway.
And it ain’t exactly pretty.
Retellings can be awesome and it can be a pain in the rear. Awesome, because you’re already familiar with the basic elements, so there’s already a pre-established connection to certain characters, and there’s already the excitement for the new things the author will add to it. And it can result to a disaster, too… because, you know… the new things may screw everything up, OR, worst-case scenario, nothing new gets added and we’re left with a dull, boring story pathetically trailing in the shadows of the original. This is why retellings are a hit-and-miss with me.
A Wicked Thing was sort of a mix of the two.
Let’s get a few things out of the way: the writing is gorgeous. It’s easy to read and visualize while being lyrical and poetic at the same time, all without having to cross the “purple prose” boundary. It’s in a first-person POV, Aurora’s of course, and it’s done really well, showcasing her meek and demure personality perfectly while also amazingly showing her confused and overwhelmed state, having woken up to a time far different from hers. Her voice was just so realistically done, you know? I don’t like doormat characters – in fact, I bloody bloody hate heroes or heroines who allow other people to walk over them so easily without a fight – but Aurora just endeared to me a in a peculiar way like no other. I empathised with her so much, as if feeling and living the trapped, suffocating life she was given. I understood why she felt so powerless and so weak. I would be, too, if I were surrounded by strange people who expected so much from me, while at the same time, expected me to do nothing, either.
I mean, just imagine. It’s a day before your eighteenth birthday. You get enchanted and find yourself pricking your finger that send you to a hundred-and-two-year sleep, and the next thing you know, some guy’s lips is on your lips and a different family and people and world are before you, already loving you and talking to you like they know every inch of you AND YOU JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO MAKE OF EVERYTHING.
I don’t know, folks, but if it were me, I may just trap myself in a medieval closet somewhere in the servant quarters and wait until the fiasco’s over.
And oh, she discovers that she was made into a fairy tale. She gets to her room, finds a book entitled The Tale of Sleeping Beauty, where it recalls her life story and how her awakening would be the catalyst to a better future. All I can say is: SLEEPING-BEAUTY-INCEPTION.
But before I digress even further, I am serious in saying the narration and writing were gorgeously done, weaving a persona of a lost and confused girl not knowing her place in a situation far grander and bigger than she. But, while I say that, the character development was rather… slow… which resulted to a mind numbingly boring pace. I understood her and where she was coming from, and I get the weak personality from the get-go, but there was so little character development, and when it finally happened, it was at the very end and the snail-like pace nearly killed the book for me. I hated how she would be weak, finally get some resolve, then be weak again, then show hints of backbone, only to fall back to her hollow shell once more… it was infuriating that it kept happening over and over again, leading to inaction and unwanted suffering. The even shittier thing about this is that it resulted to 90% dragging build-up to an explosive climax that kinda ended before the said climax was over.
However, aside from that, it was enjoyable, and it certainly affected me emotionally in more ways than one.
Also, take note that this is a dark retelling. It’s not light, positivity is rather far and few between, but I liked this aspect a lot. Fairy tales are known to be pretty linear and black-and-white, but this one has a lot of gray in between – political tensions among kingdoms and between kingdoms and their civilians, distrust among family members – and they’re fricking awesome. I loved how no one can be totally trusted, and how it even toys with the “true love” thing. There are three possible love interests, but even they are sketchy as hell and have motives of their own – motives that really serve them than her. Should you really love him because the stories say so? Should you trust him just because he showed you a world beyond the castle walls? Should you talk to him because he promised you something greater? These were really interesting questions, and it smashed the superficial concept of romance we often read in our fairy tales and in our, err, 90s Disney movies (I still love you, guys). Thankfully, no love triangle, folks. I mean, it could have happened, but there were nothing ground-breaking that would alert the bells in your head, so that’s a sigh of relief!
All in all, it was an interesting retelling that surely stands out among the others. Don’t let the 3.5 rating fool you; I may not have absolutely enjoyed it, but it has something to offer to everyone, and it does continue to go against some popular tropes that fairy tales made popular back during their reign. Plus, after that ending, I seriously need to know what happens next (no, it’s unfortunately not a standalone…).