Select one of the keywords
Thornspell    by Helen Lowe order for
by Helen Lowe
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Have you ever wondered about the prince in Sleeping Beauty? Aside from the kiss, he doesn't get much time in the spotlight in the original fairytale. Helen Lowe makes up for that lack in Thornspell, which is essentially his story.

Prince Sigismund's family is reputed to be cursed, as few members live to reach their majority - his own mother was poisoned when he was young. With his father long gone, handling unrest in the south of the kingdom, Sigismund grows up at the West Castle, surrounded by a small retinue, wondering what it would be like to encounter dragons and go on a Grail quest. From his tower refuge he can see the nearby Wood, interdicted long ago by his great-grandfather.

After the dreams begin, Sigismund has his first encounter with the evil faie who calls herself the Margravine zu Malvolin, and also with a ragged, barefoot village girl named Rue (though no-one else seems able to see her). He's helped by a good faie, Syrica, who recounts a story of a princess (her goddaughter) 'cursed at her naming ceremony' and of a great hedge of thorns that grew around a palace sleeping for a hundred years.

Hearing of the misadventure with the Margravine, the absent king summons Balisan from the Paladinates to guard and teach his son. Sigismund continues to have adventures, both magical and mundane, slowly realizing that he is the one destined to rescue the sleeping princess and that powerful forces are ranged against him. The death of a friend grieves him but also increases his resolve to fight the Margravine, who has been responsible for the realm's unrest.

Sigismund learns to see and exploit lines of power, and to move between his own world and other dimensions (in which time flows differently). He's trapped by the Margravine, but escapes by calling on his own resources, along with a little help from a friend. The prince comes of age when he opposes his stern father to do what he knows is right and save the people he cares about. He wins a sword and ultimately wins the day.

I highly recommend Thornspell as an excellent retelling of Sleeping Beauty, that enriches the original by developing the characters (rather two dimensional and passive in the fairytale) of both the legendary prince and the princess.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Teens books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews