From a beloved fantasy author comes this fresh feminist retelling of Sleeping Beauty about one girl destined for greatness—and the powerful sister ready to protect her by any means necessary. Miriam may be the daughter of Queen Alethia of Tirendell, but she's not a princess. She's the child of Alethia and her previous husband, the King's Champion, who died fighting for the king, and she has no ambitions to rule. When her new baby sister Aurora, heir to the throne, is born, she's ecstatic. She adores the baby, who seems perfect in every way. But on the day of Aurora's christening, an uninvited Dark Fae arrives, prepared to curse her, and Miriam discovers she possesses impossible power. Soon, Miriam is charged with being trained in both magic and combat to act as chief protector to her sister. But shadowy threats are moving closer and closer to their kingdom, and Miriam's dark power may not be enough to save everyone she loves, let alone herself.
When a Dark Fae bends the rules and tricks them, ready to place some sort of curse on Aurora, Miriam steps in the way to defend her sister. After she defeats the dark fae, everyone is abuzz. It seems Miriam must have some fae in her from her father, unbeknownst to everyone. Now, she is training as a night in the morning and as a fae in the afternoon with the ultimate goal of being able to protect her sister.
I appreciated the fairytale twist in the story as well as the intricate rules around the fae in the book. Miriam is a really fun character, and I loved seeing her passion and sisterly love that drive her to excel. However, it seemed like most things came really easy to her, and the answers are pretty slow in coming. The rules around the fae were not terribly clear, as it seems they weren't to anyone but the fae, and it felt like many things were arbitrary. I think this would appeal to a middle grade or young YA group, with younger main characters, simpler plot lines, and easier acceptance of happenstance. On the plus side, there is a lot of fun characters, adventure, and magic along with some humor that made it reminiscent of ELLA ENCHANTED.
Overall, BRIARHEART was an intriguing fairytale retelling that would be great for middle grade and young YA readers who enjoy light-hearted plots and fun characters.