I happen to be really fond of fairy tale retellings. I think it harkens back to a time in my childhood when I thought that being a fairy tale character would be just about the coolest thing ever. Of course, I’ve wizened up a bit and discovered that being a fairy tale writer is even cooler, but my fondness for fairy tales and reimaginings remains very strong. So when I read Dawn Rising by Lisa M. Green, a reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, I knew it was going to be a wild ride. And you know what? It was.
1. Thoughts on the plot
Okay, first things first. You should know that this is not your standard Sleeping Beauty retelling. When I say reimagining, I mean reimagining. The basic premise is that Aurianna is living in a time when things are bleak, surrounded by Darkness, and full of questionable practises. Until one day, someone comes for her from the past and says he has to take her back. Why? Because she has to save the world. Aurianna travels back to discover a world that is fundamentally different than her own. For one, there’s magic. There’s transportation. The number of people is larger. And it is under threat. Aurianna just wants to know the truth, but everyone is looking to her to save them.
This plot is really very imaginative. The theory that Sleeping Beauty’s curse involve time travel is really fascinating. As is the threat that she must face. This takes the traditional, not-so-involved heroine (mostly because she’s asleep) and turns her into the instigator of her own destiny. I really enjoyed it, and I’m curious to see where the next books in the series go.
I will say that the ending did feel a little abrupt (from climactic battle onwards). Part of that, I know, is due to the fact that the series has only just begun and there are things not yet understood, but it was just a bit too quick and not quite in line with the rest of the pacing.
2. Thoughts on the main character
As far as characters go, Aurianna is a great one to follow. For one thing, she isn’t going to blithely go along with what she’s told about her past/future, or her supposed destiny. She questions everything, taking action when she feels its necessary and basically causing trouble. She has spunk and I like her. I do think she’s perhaps a bit grumpy at times, but it is an understandable grumpiness. After all, everything she had was left behind in the future so she could go back.
In fact, Aurianna is so well developed that she makes some of the other characters look a little flat. There isn’t a lot of this, but every now and again, we meet characters (like the Regulus) who don’t have quite the same amount of development. Some of this is because of the lack of time spent inside their heads (Aurianna is the main character) and some of it is just that we don’t yet fully understand their motives, as this is the first in a series.
Still, I like Aurianna. A lot.
3. Favourite part
The descriptions of the world were just exquisite. I think that the author managed to spend just the right amount of time on these descriptions, showing us the world in a way that we could really see the differences between past and future. The images were vivid, but didn’t overwhelm the story. I really found myself absorbed by the descriptions and thoroughly enjoyed it.
As previously stated, the ending of this book felt a little abrupt. As a reader, I knew that some sort of confrontation was inevitable—this was the whole purpose of the story—but it felt like the confrontation came without any real interaction with the “problem” and then ended without an actual understanding of what just happened. Again, I know that this is partly because most of the answers will come in later books in the series, but I just want a little bit more detail in that section.
Overall, I would say that Dawn Rising is a beautiful reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, taking something that is familiar and making it into so very much more. It is unique, the characters are fascinating and the world is absolutely stunning. A very good book.