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Curse of the Thirteenth Fey: The True Tale of Sleeping Beauty Hardcover – November 8, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

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 Journalα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

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. Grades 5-8. --Kara Dean

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 880L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel Books; First Edition edition (November 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399256644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399256646
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,800,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born and raised in New York City, Jane Yolen now lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts. She attended Smith College and received her master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts. The distinguished author of more than 170 books, Jane Yolen is a person of many talents. When she is not writing, Yolen composes songs, is a professional storyteller on the stage, and is the busy wife of a university professor, the mother of three grown children, and a grandmother. Active in several organizations, Yolen has been on the Board of Directors of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, was president of the Science Fiction Writers of America from 1986 to 1988, is on the editorial board of several magazines, and was a founding member of the Western New England Storytellers Guild, the Western Massachusetts Illustrators Guild, and the Bay State Writers Guild. For twenty years, she ran a monthly writer's workshop for new children's book authors. In 1980, when Yolen was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree by Our Lady of the Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts, the citation recognized that "throughout her writing career she has remained true to her primary source of inspiration--folk culture." Folklore is the "perfect second skin," writes Yolen. "From under its hide, we can see all the shimmering, shadowy uncertainties of the world." Folklore, she believes, is the universal human language, a language that children instinctively feel in their hearts. All of Yolen's stories and poems are somehow rooted in her sense of family and self. The Emperor and the Kite, which was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1983 for its intricate papercut illustrations by Ed Young, was based on Yolen's relationship with her late father, who was an international kite-flying champion. Owl Moon, winner of the 1988 Caldecott Medal for John Schoenherr's exquisite watercolors, was inspired by her husband's interest in birding. Yolen's graceful rhythms and outrageous rhymes have been gathered in numerous collections. She has earned many awards over the years: the Regina Medal, the Kerlan Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Society of Children's Book Writers Award, the Mythopoetic Society's Aslan Award, the Christopher Medal, the Boy's Club Jr. Book Award, the Garden State Children's Book Award, the Daedalus Award, a number of Parents' Choice Magazine Awards, and many more. Her books and stories have been translated into Japanese, French, Spanish, Chinese, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Afrikaans, !Xhosa, Portuguese, and Braille. With a versatility that has led her to be called "America's Hans Christian Andersen," Yolen, the child of two writers, is a gifted and natural storyteller. Perhaps the best explanation for her outstanding accomplishments comes from Jane Yolen herself: "I don't care whether the story is real or fantastical. I tell the story that needs to be told."

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The story starts off nicely, but derails itself and loses focus. The entire "second act" of the story is completely detached from the main plot; while the interlude is interesting at first, it drags on for too long and ultimately serves only to distract from the storyline. As a result, the conclusion comes off very rushed and underexplained.

Bits of the story and the writing are very charming and the premise is nice, but in the end I was disappointed.
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Format: Hardcover
Our students love this book.
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Format: Hardcover
The book blurb is a decent summary, but it only gives you an idea of the first six chapters or so. It tells you nothing about the selfish, exiled Prince Orybon and his loyal-but-not-loving bondsman Grey; it gives you only a vague idea of the importance of Shouts and Biddings and Oaths (you can tell how important they are by the capitalized letters); and it gives far more weight to the story of Sleeping Beauty than the actual novel does. Really, Sleeping Beauty is the side note to this story. It is the conflict that keeps Gorse going--she must get to the castle before the christening is over and give her gift, or else she and all the Shouting Fey will burst into a thousand stars--but it's not the conflict that drives the story. That comes from Orybon and Grey's captivity in a deep cave, where they are kept by magick until Orybon repents of an ancient evil...something his royal snootiness is not exactly willing to do. When Gorse comes along with the power of Shouts, which just might be able to free him, he forces her to take an Oath to help him. Driven by her Oath and her anxiety about her family, an uneasy partnership blooms between Gorse and the two exiled fey. Mix in a tribe of cave trolls, a malfunctioning Cloak of Invisibility, and a magicked Gate that refuses to fall, and The Curse of the Thirteenth Fey makes the transition from mere FTR to self-actualized story.

There were many things I loved about this book. Gorse herself is an amusing and likable main character, her motivations are clear and unforced, and her love for her family -- as disagreeable and difficult as some of them are -- is a sparkling point in the plot. She does tend to think too much.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As usual, Yolen takes a traditional tale, twists and turns and fills it with multiple nods to OTHER tales, then produces a unique and wonderfully new tale.
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