26 July 2010

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen's rendition of Sleeping Beauty is a harrowing tale to tell. Unlike most of Disney's famous and popular fairy tale interpretations, most of the original tales are far more gruesome and frightening, not meant for very small children to experience, and often have far-from-happy endings.

Becca has been listening to her grandmother's tale of Sleeping Beauty throughout her entire life. Gemma always tells the tale the same way, right up to her death, but by then she insists that she is Briar Rose, a princess who lived in a castle and was woken from sleep by a prince in a faraway place. Gemma's dying wish to her granddaughter is to find the truth in the story. So Becca, always devoted to her grandmother, follows the clues that lead her to Chelmno, Poland. Chelmno was a concentration/extermination camp during World War II, from which no one left alive, so the story goes.

This title is recommended to all those with an interest in twisted or fractured fairy tells, especially those who can appreciate the taste of the originals, as well those who enjoy reading Holocaust and historical fiction. Briar Rose is part of Terri Windling's Fairy Tale Series, which also features reinterpretations of classic fairy tale themes by Jane Yolen, Steven Brust, Pamela Dean, Patricia C. Wrede, Charles de Lint, and others.

Call number: YA YOLEN

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

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