Book Review: "Cursed Beauty;" Author: Stacey O'Neale; Publisher: Pheonix Reign Publishing; 1st Edition (August 30, 2021); Kindle Edition
Ok, let's talk about this stunning cover that mixed vibrant colors, gold writing, and a gorgeous model that combined, created a glamorous portrait of the book's heroine, sixteen year old Aurora, in this fairytale retelling of "Sleeping Beauty." I must admit, I was scrolling for fairytale stories and this cover popped up and literally seduced me. Had to have this book!
In this retelling of "Sleeping Beauty," Aurora Briar is a blood witch, the last of her kind, carrying the heavy burden of saving her people, a coven of witches, as well as herself. The only way to break this curse is to cross the Shadowlands, described as dark and foreboding, and waking the sleeping prince in another kingdom. Along the way, we meet mystical creatures, shifters and vampires and some surprising twists (which I will not give away).
What I liked best about this book was the loyal bond between Aurora and her best friend, Hazel, who would do anything to keep Aurora safe, even if it means she must sacrifice her own comforts and embrace her own fears. It was great to see this relationship unfurl within the pages, giving the story a touching, human element we can all connect to and aspire to have with others in our own lives.
As the main character of the story, Aurora is extremely burdened with what she must do and we see her striving to be strong with glimpses of uncertainty and doubt and panic that envelopes her as she keeps trying to push forward. We must not forget, she is only sixteen years old with the fate of a coven and her own life in the balance. She will be confused and scared. She will act impulsively...and so she does so, many times... but with the reassurance and fierce loyalty from ever-present Hazel, these two balance each other perfectly. Where one may be weak, the other is strong.
The romance between Aurora and Sage and in addition, Hazel and Rune, was a cute element in the book. Sweet teenage love here. If this journey never took place, then perhaps these characters would not have encountered one another. It was a domino effect unfolding in this sub-plot and throughout the journey in the Shadowlands and ultimately, in what transpired at the castle harboring the sleeping prince. All this chaos they were enveloped in held some happiness that was waiting to blossom.
I am not going to expound about that happened at the castle in detail, but I will say everything ties in together and I was taken off guard and not able to predict what would happen. I thought one thing was going to happen but instead, the opposite occurred. This is good writing on the author's part and should be noted.
One occurrence in the book that did not sit well with me was a death that took place mid-way through the book. I don't believe it was necessary for this character to die by the hand of a... let's just say particular person... so as not to spoil it for other potential readers. It just did not sit well with me and I was uncomfortable with it. I hoped they would have found some common ground.
In summation, this is an entertaining book worth reading if you are keen on fairytale retellings. It whisks you away and places you in a mystical world, unfurling your imagination. I appreciate the author's efforts in taking a chance in some scenes, thereby keeping the reader in suspense with twisting plots and sub-plots. Well done.
4.5/5 rounded up to 5/5. I took off half a point for the death scene but rounded it back up to 5 as in all fairness, I don't believe the entire book which is well-written, should be judged by one scene I personally looked down upon.
I look forward to reading and reviewing Ms. O'Neale's other books.
You can find out more about the author, Stacey O'Neale, by visiting her website at: USA Today Bestselling Fantasy and Paranormal Author, Stacey O'Neale (staceyoneale.com)
I was not requested to do this review. I did it of my own volition, volunteering my views in an effort to bring the author and potential readers together. All opinions/views are my own.
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Book Reviewed: "Cursed Beauty;" Author: Stacey O'Neale; Publisher: Pheonix Reign Publishing; 1st Edition (August 30, 2021); Kindle Edition
Book Blog Copyright (C) 2021 Mary-Lisa Russo
You have stumbled into the writing world of Mary-Lisa Russo, an avid storyteller observing the universe around her and her humble place amongst the stars. “Excerpts From The Wandering Mind” is Mary-Lisa’s first collection of poems and she is currently working on her next book to be released in 2022. She recently created an e-book, namely, "Voices From the Universe," for her subscribers which is available for download via BookFunnel. She is a university graduate having majored in English Literature and continues to nurture her ongoing writing education at a local college. She is a member of the Ontario Poetry Society and various writers’ groups.