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Curse of the Thirteenth Fey: The True Tale…

Curse of the Thirteenth Fey: The True Tale of Sleeping Beauty (edition 2012)

by Jane Yolen

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844143,474 (3.35)10
Title:Curse of the Thirteenth Fey: The True Tale of Sleeping Beauty
Authors:Jane Yolen
Info:Philomel (2012), Hardcover, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:to-read, 2012-release, once-upon-a-time

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Curse of the Thirteenth Fey: The True Tale of Sleeping Beauty by Jane Yolen


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This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn.

Isn't the cover just gorgeous? That's why I picked it up in the first place - well, that and the fact that it's written by Jane Yolen. I was interested to read a longer book by Yolen, because while I enjoyed her book A Plague of Unicorns, my big complaint was that it had a very rushed ending. The writing had been great, though, and the story a fun idea, so I thought a 300 page book by Yolen would have a lot of potential.

And boy, did it! Yolen took the entire story of Sleeping Beauty in a direction utterly different from every other version I've ever read (and let me tell you: I've read quite a few). For one thing, the very reason the fairies are at the christening is really neat - a complete change from the usual "this is just what fairies do" shtick. I don't want to describe it too much because it isn't completely explained until pretty far into the book, but basically they aren't coming by choice; they have to obey the royal family, including by blessing new children, or they will literally burst into a thousand stars.

The other big issue in A Plague of Unicorns (a ton of world-building before the action actually begins) shows up a little bit in Curse of the Thirteenth Fey as well: all of Part One (the first seventy pages) is basically just setting the stage for what happens in Parts Two and Three. However, this time around it works a lot better. For one thing, the world that Yolen builds is pretty breathtaking. I mean, it's so unique everything literally has to be laid out for the reader to understand; there's no "and you know the rules of the fey, yada-yada-yada." Instead, we're starting on square one with "this is where the fey live, this is who they are, this is how their magic works," and on and on. It's really fascinating, if perhaps a little dry for the beginning of an adventure novel.

The story itself, once it gets going, is a very interesting mix of the traditional and the new. Everything feels like it comes straight from a storybook, and yet it's a little . . . different. Gorse makes quite a few discoveries that feed into what she knew of her Family's past (again, going back to the long backstory in Part One), while also struggling to get an understanding of the men who seek her help.

I really enjoyed reading Curse of the Thirteenth Fey, and I'm already looking forward to re-reading it. It's a great book, but I wouldn't call it amazing because I don't think everyone would enjoy it as much as I did. It's full of a lot of talking, a lot of complicated Family history, a lot of danger covered by talking and sitting and doing (apparently) nothing. A fast-paced adventure novel it is not, and while I liked it, I wonder if less patient readers might find it rather dry. If you've read it, I'd love to hear whether you enjoyed it as I did or if you had a harder time getting through it.

Also, I think I'm officially in love with Yolen's books. Does anyone have any recommendations for which I should read next? ( )
  Jaina_Rose | Mar 1, 2016 |
Gorse is the thirteenth child born to her Shouting Fey mother and elven father, and she gets a little magic from each of them. But all that magic is at the service of the royalty of their kingdom, who long ago gave them refuge from the Unseelie and who have kept them as serfs ever since. When the king has a little daughter, he commands Gorse and her family to give the princess blessings. Gorse, fresh from an adventure underground with trolls and fey princes, accidentally curses the princess to die at age fifteen. Luckily, her mother is there to transmute the curse into something that might save them all. I loved Gorse's odd but cozy family life, and the magical spells and power limits of the fey are truly wonderful. Gorse herself is a nicely distinct girl who uses a good deal of thought and wit in her adventures instead of relying purely on magical power.

I've been disappointed by Yolen's recent work, but this is quite good! It draws heavily on a short story published previously, but the middle part is entirely new, so I think Yolen is back to publishing imaginative fantasy tales! I'm so pleased. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Gorse, youngest of the Shouting Fey, nearly misses a command appearance at the christening of the baby princess because she falls into a trap where two other fey have been imprisoned for hundreds of years. Can she help them escape and make it back in time for the christening?

I love retold fairy tales, and this was a good one, despite the fact that the Sleeping Beauty story is only a minor subplot in Gorse's story. I like Yolen's take on the fey in this book, and the setting she has created for them. ( )
  foggidawn | Jan 30, 2013 |
Young Gorse is the thirteenth child in her rambunctious fey family, with sisters, brothers, cousins, and aunts (so many, that one does lose track rather). No uncles, but that's another story.

She's the reader of her family, and with her elven father, spends a lot of time in the family library, where due to a quirk of physics, they can get any book from any where, any time. For a fairy, Gorse knows a lot.

And then the family are Bid to give the local brat of a princess some gifts. The actual gifting comes quite late in the book, as it takes a lot of effort to get Gorse there.

A rather rambling tale, but wonderful to read. I did particularly like the spoilt annoying Princess Talia, even though she's not in it much. ( )
  wookiebender | Jan 11, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0399256644, Hardcover)

A reimagining of Sleeping Beauty from a master storyteller

Gorse is the thirteenth and youngest in a family of fairies tied to the evil king's land and made to do his bidding. Because of an oath made to the king's great-great-ever-so-many-times-great-grandfather, if they try to leave or disobey the royals, they will burst into a thousand stars.

When accident-prone Gorse falls ill just as the family is bid to bless the new princess, a fairytale starts to unfold. Sick as she is, Gorse races to the castle with the last piece of magic the family has left--a piece of the Thread of Life. But that is when accident, mayhem, and magic combine to drive Gorse's story into the unthinkable, threatening the baby, the kingdom, and all.

With her trademark depth, grace, and humor, Jane Yolen tells readers the "true" story of the fairy who cursed Sleeping Beauty.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:21 -0400)

Accident-prone, thirteen-year-old Gorse, the youngest fairy in her family, falls into a trap while on her way to the palace to bless the newborn princess, Talia, but arrives in time to give a gift which, although seemingly horrific, may prove to be a real blessing in this take-off on the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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