From beloved fantasy author Mercedes Lackey comes a fresh and feminist reinterpretation of Sleeping Beauty.
Miriam may be the daughter of Queen Alethia of Tirendell, but she’s not a princess. She’s the child of Alethia and her previous husband, the King’s Champion, who died fighting for the king, and she has no ambitions to rule. When her new baby sister Aurora, heir to the throne, is born, she’s ecstatic. She adores the baby, who seems perfect in every way. But on the day of Aurora’s christening, an uninvited Dark Fae arrives, prepared to curse her, and Miriam discovers she possesses impossible power.
Soon, Miriam is charged with being trained in both magic and combat to act as chief protector to her sister. But shadowy threats are moving closer and closer to their kingdom, and Miriam’s dark power may not be enough to save everyone she loves, let alone herself.
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/briarheart-mercedes-lackey/1138785987
Mercedes entered this world on June 24, 1950, in Chicago, had a normal childhood and graduated from Purdue University in 1972. During the late 70’s she worked as an artist’s model and then went into the computer programming field, ending up with American Airlines in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to her fantasy writing, she has written lyrics for and recorded nearly fifty songs for Firebird Arts & Music, a small recording company specializing in science fiction folk music.
Review: 3.5 Stars
I love fairy tale retellings and as soon as I saw the cover for this one I knew that I had to check it out. There are quite a few Sleeping Beauty retellings coming out this year on my TBR and I was really excited for this one. I didn’t really know that much about it before diving in, I was just excited for another fairy tale retelling. Briarheart was a quick fun YA fantasy read that I enjoyed.
Since I went into this book rather blind I was surprised that the main character wasn’t Aurora herself, but rather her older sister who is trying to protect her from dark fae. It made for a really unique retelling of Sleeping Beauty that was really fun to read. I really liked Miriam as a main character, she was incredibly brave, loyal and determined. The story follows her on her journey to be trained in magic and fighting. I always love watching a character train to become a warrior and I enjoyed Miriam’s journey as well. It was a fun way to show the world and the magic system.
My favorite aspect of this story was the found family aspect. There are many side characters that Miriam becomes close with and I grew to really like them all. There are talking animals, magical beings and some human friends that Miriam becomes really close with. I loved how she was willing to fight for her friends even when it put her at risk. I loved the talking wolf, the unicorn and the dragon and enjoyed the fact that they talked and had full personalities. This was a really vividly written fantasy book with all sorts of magical beings. The dark fae were so fascinating and I really loved the goblins too. There was so much world building to take in and I really loved that aspect of the book.
I did have some issues with this book though. The beginning was rather slow and took me a while to really sink into the story. There was a lot of info dumping and the plot moved pretty slowly. I did enjoy the plot and the mystery of Miriam’s magical lineage. The side characters were all really interesting and had cool personalities, but I feel that all of the characters needed more character development. A lot of this book just felt surface level and I wish it dove deeper into character development and that the author showed more things rather than told them.
Overall this book was a really fun light YA fantasy. The world was pretty cool and I enjoyed all of the side characters and especially the talking animals. Miriam was a great main character to follow as she was really brave and loyal. I felt like the characters could have been developed a bit better and that the plot was slow and lacking in tension. This book definitely feels like it is marketed for younger YA readers, but I still really enjoyed it. The world building was my favorite part and I loved seeing all of the different magical creatures and learning the magic system. If you’re looking for a lighter fantasy read this would be a great one to pick up!
Please be aware of mild spoilers in quotes, but no big plot points are revealed
This is a kind of Fae tale. So I’ll begin it the way all good Fae tales should.
Once upon a time..
“You always say how much like Father I am — well, what would Father have done, even at fifteen? He’d have said the same! Mama, I have Fae magic. What’s going to protect Aurora better? A knight with a sword of a knight with magic?”
Belinda came back in and looked at me, still wearing the scowl. It was clear that her feelings about what was right and proper for a young lady were running roughshod over any concern fro how vulnerable Aurora was. I don’t know what she expected me to do. Maybe wear a Fae gown and wave a wand prettily? “You asked for this,” she said accusingly.
“I don’t suppose,” he said, in that sweet, breathy voice, “that I could have some of those strawberry tarts I smelled baking in the kitchen?”
It was Papa who answered since Mama was too busy with her arms full of Aurora as she made sure that she was all right and babbled tearful nonsense over her. Papa went to one knee– and, of course, so did everyone else in the room, since when the King kneels, everyone kneels. “Sir Unicorn,” he said, in his “proclamation” voice. “You have saved my daughter. Anything in the kingdom you want, save only my family, is yours.”
Viridity laughed a little. “Strawberry tarts will be very nice. And also more water.”
“We’re going to the Goblin Market.”
They all just stared at me, as if they couldn’t believe my audacity. Since no one immediately objected, I continued talking.
“You know you can buy almost anything for the right price at the Goblin Market. Including information, Maybe we can find out where Lady Thornheart came from and what creature she was working for.” And I quickly related Haldur’s tale.