A twist on Sleeping Beauty, Princess of the Wild Sea explores the concept of heroism and the danger and reward of risk-taking.
Princess of the Wild Sea by Megan Frazer Blakemore. Bloomsbury, 2023, 303 pages.
Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12
Recommended for: ages 10-14
A Curse and a Promise
Princess Harbor Rose’s 12th birthday was supposed to bring significant changes to her restricted life on Small Island. The story of her situation is well known: how she was cursed at birth by a disgruntled magical aunt, who predicted how a prick to the girl’s finger before her 13th birthday would precipitate death and destruction to her homeland. But another magical aunt moderated the curse, and since then her mother and her mother’s magical sisters have raised her on the island to keep her from danger.
The moderation altered death to sleep, and predicted a hero from far away who “fights death and brings a golden day.” Two days after her birthday celebration, an accidental prick to her finger causes a magical sleep to fall on Harbor, and the day after a stranger arrives at The Place Where Things Wash Up. It’s a child who calls himself Peter and claims to be from a place called “Kansas”—the Somewhere Else that Harbor’s aunts have hinted about. Is this the hero? What can a six-year-old boy accomplish?
Where’s the Hero?
One thing for sure is that Peter is the only other child on the island, and the two become friends. When he’s sent away, Harbor is devastated. Where’s their hero? Trying to force events, she instead awakens a terrible threat to the island. Again, where’s their hero? All her life, Harbor has longed for some magic of her own, but she can’t even make her best friend return. There seems to be no one to come to the rescue, except, perhaps . . . herself.
This twist on Sleeping Beauty takes off on its own directions that leave the reader guessing until the last few chapters. At time the plot seems to meander while picking up hints and clues, but picks up with breathless urgency toward the end. Themes of true courage, honesty, and responsibility come clearer as Harbor’s magical world comes down to earth. The unsuspecting hero has been prepared for the part by everyday interaction, teaching, and love. “We think we can control the energy with our magic,” says one of the aunts, “but magic is not enough. It never is.” Fantasy fans will delight in the connections between worlds and the unfolding mystery that should never have been hidden.
One secondary character is a female solder with a “lady love” on the mainland. This is a bare mention at first but emerges a little more toward the end.
Overall Rating: 3.75
Worldview/moral value: 3.5
Artistic/literary value: 4.5
Read more about our ratings here.
Also at Redeemed Reader:
Reviews: We’ve enjoyed two other novels by Megan Frazer Blakemore, The Water Castle and The Spy-Catchers of Maple Hill.
Resource: “Leadership” takes many forms. See our Learning to Lead booklist for examples.
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