Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: October 5 2021
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm
Read an ARC from the publisher
Content warning: chronic illness, rape (implied, not depicted)
Zinnia Gray has a chronic illness which will claim her life before she turns twenty-two. Charm, her best friend, throws a Sleeping Beauty-themed birthday party that accidentally causes a dimensional rift which sends Zinnia to the world of another Sleeping Beauty, Primrose. The two embark on a quest to wrench agency and salvation from their own crappy happy-ever-afters, while encountering a multi-verse of other Beauties.
This book is incredibly sad. There are constant reminders of Zinnia’s countdown, and the relationship between her and Charm is filled with so much angst. The love between them is firmly founded by their friendship, and strengthened by everything that unspools in these brief pages.
It’s wonderfully feminist in the way that the girls want to work together to save each other from their own crappy fates. The hope also comes from a place tinged with a wish these girls didn’t have to be strong in the ways that they are. It balances out the fairy tale fun of the story such that it works, with the constant emotive tension. The bit where they meet the Maleficent character is absolutely heart-breaking, and I’m not going to spoil it here. It just works.
It’s not my lane to speak to, but I do want to highlight that there is a bit of magical cure in which the havoc wreaked on Zinnia’s body is reversed at the end of the adventure, though the illness itself remains. If this is a trope you’d rather avoid, I’m not sure how much the series will work to subvert it, so that’s to be determined.
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