Review of Mercedes Lackey’s BRIARHEART

Briarheart by Mercedes Lackey

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Where do I even start?

I felt anticipation and hope when I spotted this book. A female-forward, alternate take on the “Sleeping Beauty” tale. What in that statement DOESN’T sound appealing? Even the idea of granting Aurora a sister intrigued me (far too many fairy tale princesses could do with siblings, if you ask me). And after reading Ms. Lackey’s 500 Kingdoms series, I knew she had a deft hand with retelling. There were no red flags to warn me away from picking up the book.

All the more disappointment when I started turning pages.

To start, the narrative flips back and forth between past and present tense, with no rhyme or reason (aside from terrible writing and a lack of coherent editing). Even granting a younger first-person narrator, the fumble turns into a nauseating read. How difficult is it to maintain consistency throughout prose? Maybe it was intended as a style choice, but whoever volunteered the idea deserves to spend hours in front of a chalkboard writing, “I believe in consistency.” I wanted to hurl the book across the room for that reason alone.

But the biggest disappointment was the story’s failure to live up to its promise. Miri completes her so-called protective act within the first dozen pages. The remainder of the book becomes a drawn-out training montage only vaguely interesting in the recounting – and hardly canon for the “Sleeping Beauty” tale. I wasn’t curious or even enthralled, setting the book aside without a problem. (It’s absurd for a book this size to take this long to finish) The characters of the Companions (gee, where have I heard that word before?) barely lifted from the page, so forgettable I can only recall a few of their names. (And don’t get me started on the names; who in their right mind uses similar names in a story?)

The ending leaves room to suggest a sequel or series, but I feel no compulsion to read further. Every book will follow the same lackluster pattern: Aurora imperiled by the Dark Fae’s transient minions and ultimately thwarted by the Companions, interspersed with continued training, resulting in a new ally for the kingdom; possibly a clash between Miri and her parents thrown in for color. It’s predictable and dull.

Which is a shame because there was so much potential promised.

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