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Sleeping Beauty by Jenni James

Sleeping Beauty - Jenni James

Note: While this is Book 2 in the collection it works just fine as a stand a lone.

Aleyna has been asleep for decades. The evil enchantress Valeria destroyed her kingdom. The good unicorn wizard Ezralon put Aleyna under a sleep spell to protect her. Now her ghost haunts her ruined castle, though she sees it only as it was when she was awake and living there. Ghost servants assist her in her daily needs and do their best to keep her company. In a nearby kingdom, Darien, brother to King Michael, has taken a bet to explore the ruins and confront the ghost. Darien has an unusual fear of the supernatural, so this dare will not be an easy one to see through to the end.

Ezralon was my favorite character. He’s a gruff old wizard, and also a unicorn. The inherent opposites of those two things tickled me to no end! I also love that he’s protective of Aleyna but also willing to help the right person bring her out of her sleep.

Aleyna was pretty so-so for me. She’s not had much real world experience but she’s still got a little too much fluff between the ears for my taste. She needs assistance with nearly everything for much of the book, though she does have one or two moments when she rises above and accomplishes something. She has these PTSD moments when her memories of the past come back to her and I felt these scenes were given the most weight, defining the character, and making her rather dependent on others. I didn’t feel that she was the hero of the story at all. Darien has a little more meat to him than Aleyna. He falls in love easily and is very chivalrous, etc. That was to be expected and came off as vanilla bland.

Darien’s crew (young noblemen who came with him on this dare) agree to protect Aleyna and her crumbling castle from the hoards of bad things Valeria has brought with her. MILD SPOILER Aleyna has a power of her own that she isn’t fully aware of, but Ezralon and Valeria are. So Ezralon advises Aleyna to use that power to surprise Valeria while Darien and crew make ready for a stronger defense of the castle. This super power is looking extremely fantastic, like radiant, in a nice dress. Yep. END SPOILER. I was pretty disappointed on that one. Really? That’s her special ability? Argh!

Over all, the story was a little too happy and Disney-esque for me. It does have a full story arc and there’s no gaping holes. Yet I wanted more out of the main character Aleyna, a lot more really. In the end, I felt that Valeria had a very bad day and was totally off her game and that had she taken the time to have a cup of coffee, she could have easily defeated Alyena and crew. I do really like Ezralon and hope that he gets his own story one day.

I received a review copy at no cost from the audiobook publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Karen Dotrice’s performance was pretty good. She had several different character voices with accents and she was great on getting emotions across to the listener. However, whenever Darien was shushing Helena in comfort, it was just a bit too much sssshhhhhh, to the point where I had to turn down the volume. Also, the name pronunciation wasn’t always clear to me – Helena? Alena? Ezrilond? Ezrimond?