Rhiannon Thomas's dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after. 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. 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. Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.
A Wicked Thing (A Wicked Thing #1)Featured
For some reason, I had a bad feeling about A Wicked Thing. It was something about the cover, though I do like it, or maybe the title or the fact that I don’t tend to like HarperTeen books unless they’re contemporaries. Still, I cannot resist a fairy tale retelling and was really excited to read it. This time, my bad feeling was wrong, though perhaps it was just picking up on the surprise series. A Wicked Thing engaged me right from the beginning, when I found that I quite enjoyed both the writing and the narrative voice.
The concept of A Wicked Thing is really awesome. The novel opens with the kiss. Aurora’s sleeping and wakes up to this guy she doesn’t know kissing her. And telling her that now they will get married and live happily ever after. She reacts like most people would: she’s rather freaked out. To her, it’s as though a single day has passed, not one hundred years. Unlike the usual version, the others in the castle died. Now she’s alone a hundred years in the future and learning that her prone form was basically a tourist attraction. That would be the rudest awakening ever without a doubt, and I love that Thomas considers the practical awkwardness that Aurora’s situation entails.
Rhiannon Thomas has a lot of fun highlighting the difference between the fairy tale and the reality. See, the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale that we know is told about her in the kingdom. She’ll wake to the prince’s kiss and the kingdom will prosper. Aurora, though, doesn’t believe this. I mean, why would an evil curse end with her being able to save her kingdom in the future? Good point, Aurora. Thomas made me look at some aspects of the tale that I’d never given much thought to and I love that a lot.
The other thing that I think Thomas does really well is making people a bit morally ambiguous. Even Celestine, the evil witch, seems to me to be an unclear force. What was her ultimate aim? I’m really curious about the hints of her past that we’ve gotten and would like to know more. Iris, the current queen, too, seems to possibly have hidden depths, reminding me of the queen in the kdrama Goong.
What Left Me Wanting More:
The characters really needing more development at the moment are the love interests of Aurora, of which currently she has three. There’s the prince who kissed her awake, Rodric, who so far seems kind and awkward but lacking in personality. Then there’s a visiting prince, Finnegan, a debonair flirt with potential depths. Finally, there’s the boy who works at the local pub, Tristan. Nothing’s been decided romantically yet, so I don’t mind much, but I’d really like to see more personality from all three guys, because I can’t have a real ship if they don’t have real personalities.
As is occasionally the problem in YA novels, my main issue was that Aurora often seemed to have too much freedom. Mostly, Thomas did a good job highlighting how trapped she is in her position, but somehow she sneaks out pretty easily. This is at least addressed, but I was still side-eying it. More troubling is the fact that Aurora was regularly allowed to speak with Prince Finnegan or even others without a chaperone or guard. The King and Queen know that he’s working at cross-purposes to their own, but allow their son’s soon-to-be wife to speak with this guy without a guard present? Yeah, I don’t think so. Much of the plot wouldn’t be possible without Aurora having this freedom to speak without anyone overhearing, but it’s so unbelievable.
The Final Verdict:
I’m certainly going to be reading more about Aurora’s journey. I think Aurora’s got a lot of potential for an amazing character arc. Right now, she’s not very strong but she wants to be and I think she could learn. I hope to see that happen.
The concept of this book really intrigued me. I admit, I’d never given much thought to what would happen after Sleeping Beauty woke up until I found out about this book. To her, it was like she was thrust a hundred years in the future to find out everyone she knew was dead, she has a stranger for a fiance, and she’s pretty much a celebrity.
I liked Aurora and I found myself empathizing with her. She wasn’t the strongest person, she was actually really meek and obedient even when she did speak her mind. She did manage to find small acts of rebelling against the queen and I liked the times we got to see her have a backbone. I loved that she felt for her kingdom, and that she still thought of it as her kingdom even though it was so changed. She was very kindhearted.
There were a lot of interesting characters in the book. I particularly ended up liking Rodric, the prince who woke up Aurora, and his little sister Isabelle. I loved the bond they shared. Isabelle was just adorable and Rodric was thoughtful and kind. I ended up feeling for Rodric as well as Aurora. He had a lot of pressure on him for being the prince who broke the spell. There were two other boys vying for Aurora’s attentions, Tristan and Finnegan. Of the two, I preferred the flirty Finnegan who could bring out a fire in Aurora to the charming Tristan who offered her an escape from castle life.
The author did a really good job in keeping everyone’s motives a bit of a mystery. Everyone had something to gain from earning Aurora’s favor or her obedience so when they were kind to her, was it sincere or was it an act? The writing was beautiful, it was really well-suited for a fairy tale.
The pacing, at first, was a little slow. At times it felt like it was going over the same thing, the same realization, so it felt like nothing was happening. Then so much started happening near the end, it was a little too fast. But it was exciting. The set-up was interesting, full of political manipulation, kingdoms at war, tensions between the royals and the civilians, magic outlawed. It showed just how cruel and desperate people can be to get a throne and keep it.
The book definitely can give a reader some things to think about while re-watching the Disney version.