Poetry

Cacti Nymph

She’s heard whispers of cousins who were born

from branches, from leaves

from soils full of treasured minerals.

The thought makes her climb down the spines to the molten sand,

dip in her hand

and bring a scoop of those yellow granules to her eyes,

wondering if they are bland

because they already used up their nutrients

forming her cactus mother,

or if there never were any

and she is either miracle or curse.

Poetry

Diamond Set

The line of perfect teeth, concave only enough

to let out gentility

forcibly chews back all trace

of inner self.

 

Rigid, she must sit,

all sides a front, from the microscopic details of her sequined gown –

armour hidden in plain sight –

to the softness of her cheeks as she regards her counsellors

bent on tearing down

all she is trying to achieve.

Reviews

Book Review: Waking Beauty by Brittlyn Gallacher Doyle

Waking Beauty is a retelling of the classic sleeping beauty tale, but as with all good retellings, it has a twist:

Aurora Claire (or just Claire, as she prefers) was always told that she would fall under a sleeping curse for one hundred years on her sixteenth birthday – a curse bestowed upon her by a vengeful dark fairy. She lived with the knowledge that everyone she knew would be dead by the time she woke up, and her life was filled with half-friendships and loneliness because of it. Yet she had her fairy gifts – grace, beauty, creativity, wit, sweetness, song – to make up for it. So on that fateful day, she climbed the tower where the dark fairy was waiting with the spindle that would send her to sleep for a century, and pricked her finger just enough so that a single drop of blood was spilt.

Fast forward one hundred years.

Waking in her tower from an age of nightmares, she finds the handsome prince who was foretold, along with his tall and awkward knight. She and prince Damien hit it off right away – he’s everything she’d ever hoped for – but the way his knight, James, seems to regard her with constant disdain makes her feel ill at ease. However, when they leave her tower, she is overjoyed to find that the rest of the castle has been asleep just as she was, and everyone she knows, including her parents, are waking up as well. Wedding plans are soon underway, with much discussion of alliances between kingdoms. A perfect future with a perfect prince, whose charm appeals to everyone. Almost too much so.

Yet after only a few days, a servant is found asleep, and no-one can wake him. Then another is found, and another. The curse appears to be returning, and Claire has no idea why. What’s more, her fairy gifts are disappearing too. She stumbles ungracefully, freckles sprout on her nose, and her hair is a fright. Nor can she keep her mouth shut at James’s obvious distaste for her. Where did her sweetness go?

As panic spreads around the castle, Prince Damien and James volunteer to seek out the fairy who altered the dark fairy’s original curse from death to a long sleep, in order to find a way for the curse to keep from taking hold again. Claire, feeling responsible, insists on coming along, and though James argues that she will slow them down, Damien uses his charms to quiet his friend and allows her to come along. Claire and James bicker incessantly, but after a while, she realises that she finds it much easier to talk to this disapproving, quiet knight than her beloved prince, and dares to even consider him a friend…

First of all, I love that this story focuses on what happens after Sleeping Beauty wakes up, and that it’s not an immediate happily ever after.

The characters are well written and likable (when they’re supposed to be). Claire’s development from prim princess who has always followed along with what everyone expects of her to a confident young woman who is capable of making her own choices is exceedingly well done, and as the story progressed, I liked her more and more. Damien I was suspicious of straight away – no-one is ever as perfect as they appear, and towards the end, his behavior really made me grind my teeth, as it was supposed to. James reminded me very much of a character from one of my favourite fantasy series, not just in appearance, but personality as well. He likes Claire for who she really is, not what her fairy gifts make her out to be, and the back and forth between them was full of wit and humour.

The book also ended brilliantly, in a way that was satisfying but not overly convenient. The narrative is from Claire’s point of view, so I could really get inside her head, which I felt worked well for the plot as a whole.

Waking Beauty is definitely a book I’d recommend for anyone who loves fairy tale retellings with exciting twists, strong female protagonists and good character development, plus more than a dash of romance (which is odd for me, because I’m not normally a romance fan.)

Kat out.

Poetry

Mirror diary

But what if I want to make my own choices?

Briar Rose said

as the fairies offered to hide her in the woods

away from all spindles.

What if the kiss that wakes me if I do succumb

isn’t welcome on my lips?

What if I refuse

to acknowledge the curse at all?

What if I can control my fate

without magic

without fear

without giving in?

What if

my story is not how it’s told?

Extracts/ Flash Fiction

Extract: The Curse of Earthias

You cannot bring back the dead, princess.

Yusumi stopped, the words resonating in her mind from the day, so long ago, when she’d woken from her dream to find Jidan waiting to tell her that Queen Celeste wanted to speak with her.

‘I know,’ she whispered to herself. ‘I have to stop looking at the past, and make my future. I promise.’

The spindly foliage around them rustled. Everyone tensed, ready to defend themselves if necessary, but it was only the old woman they’d met before. ‘If you’re set on making a good future, my girl, then I’ll give you a word of advice. Don’t talk to yourself around others, they may think you’ve gone strange in the head,’ she said dryly. She eyed them all up, taking in the exhausted way they carried themselves and the loose threads and gashes on their clothing. ‘Here,’ she continued, throwing them each a bunch of berries. ‘You look famished.’

They ate quickly, realising that the ache they’d all felt in their stomachs hadn’t just been caused by grief. When they’d finished, the old woman sat down on a log, motioning for them to do the same. With sudden recognition, they saw that it was the very same place they had made camp before, on their way to the mountain.