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Waking Beauty Paperback – February 4, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager (February 4, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061053384
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061053382
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,022,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

The culture and world he creates are incredible!
Reve Parker
Second, the story seems little more than a poorly considered attempt to cash in on the current popularity of adult-oriented fantasy fiction.
EJ Mills
What was so satisfying about this novel was that it was so unpredictable and gripping.
Cadi P

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 30, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Despite a silly dust jacket summary which has almost nothing to do with the plot of the book itself, "Waking Beauty" is an extraordinary first effort. Bizarre, fantastic, and sometimes grotesque (in the truest sense of the word)this book has a lot in common with gothic writers such as William Beckford, Lord Byron and Clark Ashton Smith. Witcover's rococco writing style is perfectly suited to his sumptuous exploration of the vectors of power, love and sacrifice, qualities which in his world are literally written upon the bodies of his characters.
His characterizations are strong and sharp, and, unusual for his genre, the female protagonists take up most of the center stage. The action comes lickety-split, leaving the reader breathless by the novel's end--and hopeful there will be a sequel.
"Waking Beauty" is not a facile book. Underneath the glittering prose and byzantine plot, "Waking Beauty" is deeply concerned with the interplay of power and domination, greed and ambition, and perhaps most importantly, love in all its many guises. Witcover is more than up to the challenge of translating these abstract ideologies into an entertaining, imaginative ripping good read. "Waking Beauty" transcends the "fantasy" genre, and sets Witcover in a class with such "literary-fantasy" writers as A.S. Byatt, Angela Carter and C.S. Lewis. Though the action of this novel may be set in the fantastic, the underpinnings of Witcover's world is all too familiar. By far, one the best novels of the year.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By R.K.M. on June 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Ignore the fact that the cover of this book implies some creepy bondage thing. Ignore the synopsis written on the back, obviously penned by a person who's never read it. Instead listen to me. This book is excellent. It's the story of a world that turns upon the strict ordering of its society, adhering to a religion founded centuries ago; a religion that elevates men and supresses women, that reveres fireflies and fears Beauty. A strict caste system exists allowing the few to rise but only at the expense of another. Underneath the cities of this world the heretics hide, plotting a revolt and awaiting the second coming of their saviour, said to already walk their earth. We watch this drama unfold by following the travails of a country boy, his country wife who is thrust into the big city, and the girl he was once promised to marry who was exiled to a Cat house long ago.
Witcover provides an excellent tale with a complete mythology and history which is leant an air of authenticity by loosely borrowing on tales that are familiar from our own experience. This level of world-building is on par with and may surpass that of the Baker's Boy trilogy and is equal to the world and religion created in the Kushiel's Dart trilogy.
It was a fast read although a large book, and it was self-contained so I do not have to wait for or hunt down other books in a series. Definitely recommended.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is truly astonishing. Paul Witcover has taken our everyday world, distilled it down to its very essence, and disguised it as the Hierarchate. The book is one immense parable. It covers the cruelty, sexism and unmitigated power of the Christian Church, interweaving Christian mythology with well-known fairy tales and pagan folklore. The symbology in this book is overwhelming - on every page there is something that makes me stop and grab my copy of "The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets" by Barbara G. Walker (which I highly recommend you read before, during or after "Waking Beauty" if you want to fully appreciate its vast multiple layers; also, a Latin dictionary is useful for uncovering the hidden symbology in the names of the saints). Towards the end it becomes difficult to tell if Witcover intends the three Viridis Lacrimatas to represent the Christian Trinity in female garb, or the Triple Goddess (Maiden, Mother and Crone) - however, given his level of awareness about religious-social issues I'm inclined to interpret it as the Goddess. This book is far deeper than it appears on the surface to the idle reader...it is not mere fantasy, it is a living, breathing, scathing commentary on the structure of the world we are forced to live in; and this author is a man I would love to meet and talk to over a long, delicious lunch! Blessed Be.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Akemi on February 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
Because it's wrong. It makes it sound like some sort of dull love triangle when really the book is much more than that. It weaves this strange and fascinating topsy turvy world in a way that is rare in most books nowadays. It's delightfully sensual and has unique images.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Woodring Stover on January 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
The most original fantasy of the decade: always two steps to the left of where you expect it to be. A necropolis rose, unfolding layers of corruption to reveal astonishing beauty.
There are those who sneer at fantasy as the literature of the familiar, the comfortable, the safe; they have never read this wholly adult, wholly disturbing novel. READ THIS BOOK -- then go out and tell everyone you know to read it, too.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By An adult reader on August 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
The difficulty of the fantasy genre is coming up with new variations on a theme. Witcover successfully clears this hurdle, and combines a plethora of familiar cultural icons with some exotic twists to create a wholly enthralling society in conflict with itself. This book is not for children, and is obviously aimed at an adult/college audience which is in and of itself refreshing. The vivid imagery and none too subtle attacks on a variety of contemporary customs, for example plastic surgery, are well mixed to keep the messages from overwhelming the story. Taken in measured doses or all at once, this story captivates, entertains, and provides thought provoking observations on contemporary issues all at once. Looking forward to his future offerings.
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