- Age Range: 10 and up
- Grade Level: 5 - 6
- 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: 5.8 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,191,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Curse of the Thirteenth Fey: The True Tale of Sleeping Beauty Hardcover – November 8, 2012
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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.
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
Top customer reviews
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Bits of the story and the writing are very charming and the premise is nice, but in the end I was disappointed.
The author has a terrific way of writing in that she brings the entire world and all her characters to life. It's so easy to picture everything in your mind as you read along. The Fey world is interesting and many aspects are unique to this story alone. Gorse, the main character and the thirteenth fey, grows on you rather quickly and her adventures become yours as well.
There really is very little about Sleeping Beauty in this book so that was a tiny bit of a downer. It's much more about the fey and how the sleeping curse came about. So I would say if you are actually looking for a retelling or a tale about Sleeping Beauty herself, this might not be it. However, if you are looking for a story about what lead up to her curse and those that cursed her, this one is a very good choice. It is packed full of adventure and the story leaves absolutely nothing out about the curses origin. Just be advised it's really not a Sleeping Beauty story per say.
All in all this was a pretty good book and any age can enjoy it!
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. That's my one beef with this book: when Gorse first falls into the cave-prison of Orybon and Grey, she spends approximately 29 pages out of a thirty-page section thinking. Now, thirty-ish pages of anything will get old. But Gorse's life is being threatened by the sword-wielding Grey, and no fewer than ten pages pass between when Grey draws his sword to off-with-her-head and when the threat passes. We spend ten pages in irritated suspension, being told about this wondrous place and all its glamorous glitter and beauty, while Gorse thinks about things we've already been told anyway. While the threat of death is hanging over her. I'm not sure what realm that massive section came from, nor how it slipped past editors, but it is -- blessedly -- the only such place in the book.
And other than that, this really was a delightful book with some fantastic worldbuilding. Shouting Fey and their histories and background are especially interesting, and there is a better portrayal of the Seelie/Unseelie courts than I've seen in most other places.
The best part of the whole book, to me, was the character of Gray, the prince's manservant. Gray gave a foolish Oath in his youth (an Oath, I might add, that could be dissolved if the Oath-taker died before the Oath-giver) to the unworthy Orybon, followed his master into exile for several hundred years, and is *still* willing to give his life for Orybon purely out of honor. Grey is so blasted noble that he puts himself in harm's way to protect this less-than-worthy lord of his. He's dryly sarcastic, a good storyteller, protects Gorse from Orybon's short temper, and still manages to keep a sense of humor despite his dark and dreary circumstances. I do believe I fell in love.
"Curse of the Thirteenth Fey" is a well-built story set in a world that has clearly defined rules (usually designated by the All Important Capital Letters) and nicely drawn characters playing out their parts in a compelling novel that draws from the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale while still remaining a completely original and wonderful romance. (And I mean romance in the literary sense, not the kissy-kissy sense.) Anyone who likes fairy tale retellings ought to try this one out.
(this review was originally published, in longer form, at [...]