Reviews for Curse of the Thirteenth Fey : The True Tale of Sleeping Beauty

Booklist Reviews 2012 November #2
Yolen follows up Snow in Summer (2011), an Appalachian retelling of Snow White, with this fey reimagining of Sleeping Beauty. It is based on a short story written by Yolen about Gorse, the thirteenth child of an elf and a Shouting Fey. The Shouters are a family of fairies bound to an unscrupulous king who can force them to grant him any wish--failure to do so will result in death via bursting into a thousand stars. Gorse is young, susceptible to fever, and accident-prone, and a moment of haste lands her in a trap with far-reaching ramifications. Readers interested in the Sleeping Beauty angle will have to be patient while Gorse's story unfolds. She spends much of the book trying to escape from an enchanted underground prison, learning to harness her own magic, discovering the wits at her disposal, and befriending a fellow fey trapped by an oath of his own. Still, the book has a marvelous cadence that creates a world both ancient yet familiar and lends itself well to reading aloud. Fans of fairy tale adaptations will enjoy this well-imagined retelling. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
For generations Gorse's faerie family has been unable to refuse any of the king's Bidding. Now the royals have demanded christening gifts for their long-awaited newborn daughter, but on the way to deliver her gift (a spindle), Gorse is held captive. Yolen brings a master's confidence to this re-envisioning of "Sleeping Beauty"; a tour-de-force combination of fantasy, whimsy, and family story.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #6
When Gorse's faerie family, the Shouting Fey, were exiled from Under the Hill, the human king promised them protection in exchange for doing his Royal Bidding, "which we will consider as binding as an Oath." For generations the Family has been unable to refuse any Bidding, no matter how ill-advised, because a faerie who breaks an Oath dies by bursting into a thousand stars. Now the feckless royals have demanded christening gifts for their long-awaited newborn daughter, but on the way to deliver her gift (a spindle), Gorse, the thirteenth-born, falls into a magical trap. Held captive underground by two fey princes themselves trapped by an old curse, Gorse fears her absence means Oath-breaking for her entire clan. As she learns more about her captors and the history of her family, she begins to assemble the means to escape. Yolen, adept at fairy-tale retellings, brings a master's confidence to this re-envisioning of "Sleeping Beauty." Complementing her invention of the Shouting Fey, she explores the power of words in all incarnations: oaths, curses, wishes, spells. Her own rich language conveys a beguiling portrait of childhood in a large, sprawling family, then sets it against forces in the adult world that sift through to a child's awareness. When her heroine gets going -- Gorse makes up in perceptiveness what she lacks in grace -- the journey becomes a tour-de-force combination of fantasy, whimsy, and good old-fashioned family story. anita l. burkam Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #2
Despite its misleading cover image of Sleeping Beauty, this is quite a nice back story as to how and why that last fairy was late to her christening. Yolen takes off from a handful of short stories she published in the mid-1980s and engages readers with the voice of Gorse, the 13th fey of the title, youngest child of her Irish Elven father and her mother, who is of the Shouting Fey. Despite her heritage, magic--using it or even being around it--always makes Gorse ill. She is sick when the rest of the family is called to the fateful christening, and her hurrying, late, with a magic spindle for a gift lands her down a hole--with allusions to both Alice's rabbit hole and a wormhole--with a prince and his loyal companion. These two have been imprisoned together in caves inhabited by a furry and smelly lot of creatures for generations. The relationship between Grey and Orybon is silken with loyalty and betrayal, and Yolen studies it carefully through Gorse's eyes. They expect Gorse to rid them of the curse that keeps them imprisoned, and she does, although not in the way anyone expects. The pages are peppered with subtle references to everything from Lord of the Rings to Emily Dickinson, and Gorse grows in both cleverness and thoughtfulness as the story unwinds. A graceful and absorbing look at a familiar villain. (Fairy tale/fantasy. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 October #3

Yolen follows her Snow White retelling, Snow in Summer (2011), with a similarly inventive spin on Sleeping Beauty (like that book, this novel also derives from one of the author's short stories). Half elf, half fey, Gorse is the youngest of 13, and as such, she is the last to learn of the oath that ties her family to the kingdom and requires them to do Royal Biddings, under penalty of bursting into a thousand stars. When Gorse is 13 years old, a Bidding comes down to bestow blessings on the newborn princess, Talia. Rushing to get to the castle, Gorse falls into a magical trap, and so begins an adventure that eventually results in her delivering an accidental gift to the princess. Yolen's trademark humor is apparent throughout ("He clearly never met a comma or period he liked," Gorse remarks after her family receives the king's Bidding), and while the story takes some time getting started, as Gorse shares stories of family history and magical mishaps, that by no means detracts from its many pleasures. Ages 10-up. Agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. (Nov.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 October

Gr 7-10--In this imaginative retelling, the jealous, overlooked fairy who curses Sleeping Beauty is recast as a sickly, bookish teenager. Thirteen-year-old Gorse belongs to the Shouting Fey, a clan of mischievous fairies with powerful voices. In a subversive departure from the original tale in which benevolent fairies bestow gifts at the infant's christening, Yolen portrays the relationship between the royal family and the Shouting Fey as downright feudal. Tied to their land by an ancient oath, the Fey are compelled to perform spells at the whim of their capricious monarchs. On the day of the christening, Gorse rushes to the palace only to fall down a hole into a cave where she discovers two fey princes who have been banished for years, as well as revelations about her family's past. The frequent references to fairy lore are occasionally overwhelming; however, Yolen has crafted an intricate world full of well-developed characters. The incantations that the fey often invoke ("Blow and sow/This fertile ground/Until the knot/Be all unwound") add a lyrical quality to the elegant prose. Readers who typically prefer fairy-tale retellings, such as those by Donna Jo Napoli or Robin McKinley, may be put off because the plot largely revolves around Gorse's escape from the cave rather than Sleeping Beauty herself, but fans of more unconventional fantasy adaptations, such as Gregory Maguire's Wicked (HarperCollins, 1995), will enjoy seeing an antagonist receive a rich, compelling backstory.--Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

[Page 154]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

VOYA Reviews 2013 April
The youngest child of a mixed marriage between an elf and a member of the Shouting Fey, thirteen-year-old Gorse has been allowed to enjoy childhood longer than her twelve siblings. Angry at learning she and her family are tied to the land by an oath and required to do the king's bidding, regardless of how shortsighted, Gorse falls ill and is left behind when her family is summoned to the christening of the newborn princess, Talia. Worried that her absence will be considered an oath-breaking for her family, punishable by instant transformation into thousands of stars, Gorse takes a shortcut to the castle, only to fall into a magical trap that lands her in an underground cave. There she meets the self-centered, nasty Prince Orybon. Between Orybon's manipulations, Gorse's clumsiness, and the ancient magic of the gate that bars escape from the underground caves, Gorse fears she will never make it to the christening on time The book's rather slow, whimsical, and meandering (a bit like Gorse herself) pace is offset by the more imaginative and fun details, such as Gorse's father's magical library with books from the past, present, and future and the underground McGargles--hairy creatures who like cooking but not cleaning. All is wrapped up neatly, as fairy tales are, in a most satisfying manner, explaining, at last, the subtitle of the book. Die-hard Jane Yolen fans and younger readers who enjoy the telling more than the tale will appreciate this prequel to Sleeping Beauty.--Kim CarterThis book is good, though not amazing. Certain parts, like the beginning, are fairly slow. This book is definitely for the younger reader who likes fantasy with fairies and elves. 3Q, 2P.--Ruth Cowan, Teen Reviewer 3Q 3P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.