Friday, 20 September 2013

Book: Briar Rose by Jana Oliver

I received a copy of Briar Rose via the goodreads First Read program.

Briar loves everything to do with fairy tales, and always has done, but when she wakes up in one of her very own, she soon finds out that fairy tales aren't all charming Princesses, brave Princes and Happily Ever Afters. When Briar succumbs to the curse that should have killed her when she turned 16, her best friend Reena is determined to enter her curse dream and save her, as is Joshua Quinn, the son of her mother's enemy. Whilst Reena and Joshua makes plans to save her, Briar has run into the handsome stable hand, Ruric, who helps her fit in under the regime of the Regent, who is ruling until Princess Aurora awakens. Can Briar find her prince and break the curse, or has she already found him?

Link to Goodreads
Link to amazon

Judging this book by its cover: (Which is a new thing I'm going to try out in my reviews! This is basically just my thoughts on the cover image of the book!) Briar Rose has a beautiful cover image, and it clearly fits in with the story. Though seeing the image on your computer doesn't quite convey just how luminous and pink the title (and the blurb) actually is!

As is probably fairly obvious by now, I absolutely love fairy tale retellings, and this is probably one of the best ones that I have read! Though originally set in America, once the curse sets in in Briar Rose, you are transported back to a medieval type setting, with some almost steampunk aspects, i.e. the metal animals, soilders and other things such as that. This all helps to create a fairy tale world with the darker twists.

As with many fairy tales, you can expect there to be magic involved in Briar Rose, not just in the form of the curse, but also in what Reena and Lily do, the Fata (colourful pixie fairy people) and the evil metal magic that the Regent performs. You also have several mentions of ghosts, which adds a different layer to those normally found in fairy tales.

Briar as a character starts out as quite naive, and even childish, but she is forced into a situation (her curse and the ensuing dream) where she has to grow up, and as she even says herself, she changes a lot. As a character she grows to be stronger, braver, and more of a leader. I liked this for two reasons, the first being that I love to read good character development, and second because I get really excited when there is a strong female lead character, particularly when she is in a role that is traditionally seen as being a bit wimpy, such as Briar Rose being paralleled to Aurora from Sleeping Beauty (who for the record was a very different character).

As well as seeing her personality grow, you see Briar's relationship with Joshua growing and changing. To me, it was pretty obvious from the beginning that Briar and Joshua were meant to be together, there was just something about them, probably partly to do with Briar's mentions of Romeo and Juliet, which in some ways (though less depressing ways it must be said) their relationship mirrors. Still, in Briar Rose you get to see Briar's feeling change from 'he's kinda hot' and 'our parents will ground us if we talk' to something more along the lines of 'he's mine, back off''.

Interestingly though, well for a 16 year old girl anyway, Briar was fully accepting that their relationship may not actually last, though it was heavily implied that it would. In fact, Briar seemed to be pretty wise when it came to boys, my favourite piece of Briar wisdom was what she said to Ruric when he was mooning:
What is it with you boys? You'll take on an ogress or a pack of wolves all by yourself, but if you like a girl you get all stupid. 
I really really enjoyed Briar Rose, it was a real page turner, and if you like your fairy tale retellings then you should be getting a copy of this now!