Young people may enjoy the conversational tone the narrator and main character, Aurore, uses throughout this book. I personally didn’t enjoy this book as much as some of the others read for this project. Like all Sleeping Beauties, Aurore is cursed at her christening, but this time it is not by a fairy, but instead the angry and often forgotten Cousin Jane. Fairies are not really necessary in this kingdom because there is already so much magic. Prior to her birth, Aurore's cousin Oswald had been named the heir to the throne, as it did not appear that her parents would ever be able to have children (the difficulty the parents have conceiving is common to many of the Sleeping Beauty tales). Later, her father will decide to instead make Aurore his heir, because of her strong desire to leave the palace walls and learn how the people of the kingdom live. Oswald and she have had a strained relationship to this point, but now it grows more troubled. The relationship is a confusing one, and it becomes even more confusing as the story goes on.
When terrible things begin to happen in the kingdom as a result of the curse not coming to fruition, Aurore decides she must leave to save her people and ventures into an enchanted forest. Here she meets Prince Ironheart, and throughout their adventures it is assumed that they will end up together. He has come to the forest to discover a sleeping princess who he will kiss and wake up, and she is of course this princess. It is when she is helping him sew up a wound that she pricks herself with a needle. He kisses her and brings her back to his castle, which is the same castle she grew up in. One hundred years have passed while Aurore was in the woods, and Ironheart is in fact Oswald’s great grandson. Oswald is still alive, and Aurore tells him she has always loved him. They kiss and he is young again. Not only do they find true love but they also both get to rule the kingdom.
So, young readers aren’t going to be able to accept this relationship, even if it is explained that cousin marriage was once quite common, particularly among royal families. I have to admit even I had some trouble accepting it, even though there were hints that the two had strong feelings for one another and I thought it might happen. Certain interactions between the two characters are flirtatious and you wonder why they aren't a couple, then you remember they're cousins. At the same time, however, the author did make it clear that Aurore and Ironheart seemed to have more of a brother/sister relationship and didn’t feel anything for each other romantically. Of course, they turned out to be related as well, so even if they had ended up together there still would have been the element of incest.
Click here to read the School Library Journal review of this book (from Amazon).