Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

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I received this book for free from HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon ThomasA Wicked Thing Published by HarperTeen on February 24, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Retellings, YA
Source: HarperTeen
Buy on Amazon

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.

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.

This was me after I turned the last page. Emotions = A rollercoaster.

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.

That’s what I said, too. I hear you, Maleficent.

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!

Hopefully to the tragic reality that “true love” doesn’t really exist in the way you’re thinking…

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…).


3.5 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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25 Responses to “Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas”

    • Faye

      I am honestly not surprised. The first ten percent is awesome, the next thirty percent is boring, then it gets awesome halfway for a ten percent, then gets boring again for the next thirty percent. You’ll need plenty of patience my friend >_<

  1. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I have been hearing some pretty mixed things about it. I do really like the sound of the characters but it’s a real shame about the book being mildly boring. I’m going to have to prepare myself for that.
    Lovely review, Faye!

    • Faye

      Yeah… if you can get through the boring parts, you may like it as a whole… just not sure if everyone will find it worth it, though >_<

    • Faye

      Yeah, I had to fricking complain to my mates over and over again because the 10-40% were the same things over and over told in the same, lifeless tone… >.>

  2. Eileen

    Oh wow I thought this was a standalone. I’m looking forward to trying this one because retellings are so neat!I hope I’ll love the writing like you did so I won’t mind the slow pacing 🙂

    • Faye le Potato

      I thought so, too 🙁 Alas, it wasn’t… Well, I assumed it would continue anyway because it mentioned other kingdoms and stuff, and dropping these names without ever telling anything about them is kinda a no-no. Oh, well, the next book is bound to be more interesting anyhow!

  3. Pili

    Well, I wasn’t all excited about this one since I’m not the biggest fan of retellings, but after reading your review I’m quite excited about this one, mostly because of how different it seems to be from usual fairy tales and going darker! Even if the main character was a bit on the doormat kinda side…
    Great review Faye!

  4. Jessica @ a GREAT read

    OOh nice review! I was very excited about this one! Therefore, naturally, EW rejected my request. No bigs since my TBR pile has turned into a Mountain of Doom! lol

    Sounds like an interesting story, if a bit stuttered in areas? I love fairy tales, retellings, reimaginings…and Sleeping Beauty was always one of my fave movies growing up! Until Beauty and the Beast came out that is!

    I am still anxious to read this one though! And on a side note, and not completely necessary, but since Sleeping Beauty was a fave movie of mine growing up in the 90s as well, it was actually released in 1959. I don’t think Disney had it’s loathsome vault yet, so that was likely why we were able to see it as kids! Death to that vault! My niece and little 2nd cousins likely can’t have a few of our classics now because of it. *grumbles*

    Great review though! Sooo can’t wait to read it!

    • Faye

      Rawr! EW, why must you be a douchebag! >:(<

      Yeah, it doesn't sail very smoothly (more like slowly) but as long as you can tolerate some repetitive parts, it's not too bad. Plus, this Aurora is quite complex if you can stomach a bit self-loathing… haha. I hate self-loathing, but it worked for me here, so that's something 😛

      Oh, I forgot about it being released in 1959! I shoulda figured since its art style is not reminiscent of the 90s. Thanks for the heads-up ^_^

  5. Kristi

    LOL, I LOVED that review! Very clever and interesting! Fairy tale re-tellings are not my fav trope (by far!) but this sounds like it may not be so bad! I just may give it a chance!

    Fantastic review, Faye!

  6. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Wonderful review Faye, I love how this is a dark retelling and the way you review it really captures how weirded out she must feel when she re-awakens with a completely new family and everything! I’m glad even though there were 3 potential guys there wasn’t really a love triangle, yay!

    • Faye

      Aww, thanks Jeann! I’m glad to have given that part of the book justice in this review 😉 I totally can’t imagine myself being in her shoes. I’d be freaked out and just shut down wahaha!

  7. Valerie

    WOW FAYE I just watched Sleeping Beauty on TV the other day 😀 It does sound pretty interesting though! I like retellings, but I don’t love, love them. HMM I DON’T KNOW whether I would want to read it or not. I’ll sleep on it LOL.

    Hilarious and awesome review Faye, I MISS THESE REVIEWS FROM YOU.

    • Faye

      Haha, isn’t that an awesome coincidence. Retelling are a hit/miss thing for me… there are some that are fantastique, and there are some that make you wonder… well, the meaning of life. Only crazy things make you go that insane 😛

  8. P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

    Great review! I’ve always loved Sleeping Beauty after Once Upon a Dream. It’s one of my favourite Disney song and I’ve seen the film at least a handful of times. I am very curious about Aurora, and what kind of person she ends up being so I think I’ll definitely read this one. It’s slow, but dark, which is what I like. Also, I just watched Maleficent so I’m in a Sleeping Beauty-ish mood. 😉

  9. Miguel @ The Quirky Reader

    *sigh of relief* I was beginning to lose interest in this novel, and thank goodness I read your review! Honestly, the synopsis kind of deceived me – like I was expecting this cookie-cutter type of retelling. But you mentioned ‘dark retelling’ so. I’m on board!

  10. Amy @ Xpresso Reads

    Yay!! Glad to see that you enjoyed this one Faye. I am not near reading my Feb review books, but I am looking forward to this one. I am always up for retellings, but like you said, sometimes they just fall flat. I hope that I will enjoy this one too.