When I first picked up this book, I thought I was about to dive into another Sleeping Beauty retelling, but from the first page, this book has already exceeded my expectations and really blew me away with its creativity. Thanks to Tor dot com for the gifted book.
It’s Zinnia Gray’s twenty-first birthday, which is extra-special because it’s the last birthday she’ll ever have. When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition. Not much is known about her illness, just that no one has lived past twenty-one.
Her best friend Charm is intent on making Zinnia’s last birthday special with a full sleeping beauty experience, complete with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, something strange and unexpected happens, and she finds herself falling through worlds, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate.
I can’t believe I started this book thinking it was going to be just another fairy tale retelling. It’s not. It’s so not and I’m actually a little glad for it. The moment I read Zinnia pricking her finger on the prop spindle at her 21st birthday that transported her to another world, I knew I would be hooked and I absolutely loved it.
The world itself was your typical fantasy world with castles and royalty and an evil fairy who casts the spell on Primrose, but what I also loved is the perspectives from the evil fairy. Always with these stories we never see what the other side of the story thinks and seeing that perspective really made you understand that sometimes destiny is cruel and unusual. I also loved the other little nods like Primrose acting like a royal princess. I’m not talking about spoiled or vapid, but actually raised to be a leader and demanding a certain level of respect. It was interesting to see.
I think my favorite character was Charm with her can do attitude and her willingness to help Zinnia in the situation she found herself in. It was weird that Zinnia was still able to text Charm (and a little irresponsible that she didn’t text her family where she was), but I loved that Charm is one of those thick and thin friends who aren’t mad at you for long and will help you out of any situation.
I absolutely loved the multiverse and multiple Sleeping Beauties aspect to it. Although, their time in the book felt a little truncated and it would have been cool to get to know all the different version of Sleeping Beauty and how they can help each other overcome the destinies they’ve been handed. But I did love seeing them all in the same room with the same goal to help Primrose from her fate and help Zinnia get back to her real life before her medication ran out.
And that part I loved. I loved the whole message of taking hold of your own destiny. Zinnia being a terminally ill patient has always felt like she had no control over what will happen and it made her live a sort of zombie life. It makes me so happy that she finds purpose by the end and realizes that despite destiny, you can rewrite the story and make it work for you.
The only part that really nagged at me and probably won’t nag anyone else is the explanation for the multiverse and how Zinnia was able to travel through them. I wish this was a bit more explained just because there are so many ways this is used in stories and knowing how it’s used in this one would help me really envision Zinnia moving from one space to another.
Overall, this was a pretty epic story in a very small package. I just read that it’s a series, so I can’t wait to see what other stories Alix E Harrow rewrites!