The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty
By: A.N. Roquelaure / Anne Rice
I genuinely debated doing a review for this book. I wasn’t sure at first what to write, and it is so far outside my usual reads. But, I reminded myself, it’s just a book. No one cares.
I was freshly married when I first read this. 19 and borrowing every single book I could from the neighbours, no matter the content. I had to read. Pregnant and out of work for the first time, I re-read everything of mine, but didn’t have a disposable income to spend on books. And public library? Hah!, I say. There was none where we lived. (Still isn’t.) I read the first two books in this trilogy, then was found out by my husband. It’s not that he didn’t approve of the style of books, it was that they were books. I returned them, and didn’t read when he was home for a long time. It took me a while to get comfortable reading around other people again.
Fast forward to now. I came across a book recommendations list for Valentine’s and this was on it. My first thought was, I remember that book, which induced blushes. My second thought was, I never finished the series, which induced an OCD form of anxiety. My third was, I wonder if my local library has it, which induced opening a new tab to check. I didn’t think they would, but sure enough I reserved a copy.
Enough background. Anne Rice is an accomplished author, without doubt. She also has a way of weaving a story that you are chapters into before you know it. Beauty is no exception. A quick moving tale beginning with the Awakening of Sleeping Beauty (simply named Beauty), you get the impression that Sleeping Beauty is not the only fairy tale here. She is awoken by a Beastly, if handsome, Prince. The Prince begins his reign of Beauty by stripping her with his sword, then doing the deed. This is the last that Beauty wears clothes, because the Prince forces her to remain naked with him, even as her Father enters the room. The Prince stakes his claim, then sweeps Beauty through the countryside and to a seemingly enchanted castle where her ‘training’ begins.
Beauty finds that she is not the only princess to be treated in this way, and soon creates a bond with the Queen’s favorite ‘slave’, Prince Alexi. Beauty’s treatment is described in lurid detail, and the story of the characters that Beauty encounters increases her distress until she acts out against her own good sense, rebelling against the rigid rules of the castle. Her disobedience ends the first part of the story, with her being shipped off to be auctioned off for the summer.
This is a very adult book, and the descriptions are often blunt, leaving much to the imagination, but little in the way of creative interpretation. The way that Ms. Rice uses imagery allows the reader to feel sympathetic toward Beauty’s situation, one that she does not pick for herself, but rather is thrust into.