A Wicked Thing is written by Rhiannon Thomas. It was published in 2015 by HarperCollins.
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. Everyone expects Aurora to marry her betrothed and restore magic and peace to the kingdom before revolution tears it apart. But after a lifetime spent locked in a tower for her own safety, Aurora longs for the freedom to make her own choices. When she meets a handsome rebel, she is tempted to abandon everything for a different kind of life. 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.
I waffled back and forth while reading this novel as to whether or not I actually liked the way Thomas adapted this fairy tale. On the one hand, I liked the concept: the princess waking up to discover that her kingdom has completely changed while she slept, a sort of Rip Van Winkle effect. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but think about how that’s not the Sleeping Beauty story. Thomas’s iteration is interesting, but I couldn’t help but think she cheated, somehow— which is ridiculous, I know! But upon reflection, I do think I fall more towards the former. The concept is certainly interesting and makes for some good conflict.
So, thumbs up for the world (or, at least, the way Thomas took the fairy tale. We didn’t really learn much about the world in the book, except that magic has something to do with it and there are dragons). As for the protagonist…I’m not sure if I like Aurora. Her anger at Tristan for lying to her seemed misplaced, especially since she was lying to him, too. It was an “I’m going to be mad at you for doing this while conveniently forgetting that I did the exact same thing” moment, but perhaps that pointed out a flaw in Aurora’s character. She certainly does get a little self-righteous about things that she has no clue about throughout the book.
Also, I hate, hate, hate the love square. I liked that Thomas did not play the stupid “princess falls in love with a rebel rather than the prince/person she has to marry” card completely straight, but that sort of gets negated when there are three love interests for the main character. Poor Rodric. I really hope the shy, kind boy wins the day this time around, but let’s face it—he won’t. He was out of the picture the instant Aurora gets engaged to him. Sigh.
As for the rest: the plot was good, although the book dragged in the middle and there wasn’t all that much plot to begin with. The whole book is pretty much Aurora moping around, falling in love, getting mad, moping again, and then finally doing something while having a strange exchange with a witch. It’s well-written, though, so all that plodding is disguised. And I don’t understand the world at all, but as per usual, the second book will probably establish more.
Recommended Age Range: 14+
Warnings: Kissing, violence, death.
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Young Adult
She paced back and forth, her feet beating a steady rhythm against the smooth stone floor. She sped up with each lap of the room, walls pressing in closer and closer with every breath. If she stopped moving, even for a moment, she might melt away, vanish like everything else in her life. So she walked around the room, staring at the foreign walls and her familiar hands, her minds running over everything that had happened.
Every now and again, it would strike her, like a punch to the stomach, that this was real. That her family, her whole life, was gone. She would pause in her pacing, knees bending, stomach caving, her breath stolen away. But the certainty slipped away with moments, too impossibly huge to grasp for long. It would slip back into the realm of fiction and dreams, and she would continue to pace, until she thought, so casually, of whether her father would visit tomorrow, and it would strike her all over again.