Tuesday, July 24, 2018

While Beauty Sleeps by Ripley Proserpina ~ Review

While Beauty Sleeps (Once Upon a Harem #7)Source: ARC provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

While Beauty Sleeps (Once Upon a Harem #7) by Ripley Proserpina

“She shall prick her finger on a spinning wheel, and fall to sleep...”

There once was a girl who was born to be cursed. By no fault of her own, she was doomed to remind her kingdom of everything ugly. No matter how many good deeds she did or how kind she was, it was her destiny to die, and take her kingdom with her. Her mother and father wept when they saw her, and the witch who cursed her celebrated gleefully as each year passed.

Except there was hope. Her sisters, older and wiser, and with no small amount of magic of their own, countered the witch's curse. If Kumiko could be loved, truly loved, the curse would be broken, and everyone would see what the witch had hidden.

But all her life, Kumiko had been let down—by the parents who hid her away and by an ill-fated curse.

Until they arrived.

Four princes, full of smug confidence and pride, were determined to break the princess's curse before her twenty-first birthday.

All they had to do was fall in love.


I've been meaning to pick up a Ripley Proserpina book for a good while. Her Searchers series, in particular, has been recommended to me numerous times. For some reason, I have yet to get around to picking it up. But then an ARC of While Beauty Sleeps landed in my inbox and it piqued my interest. A standalone reverse harem fairytale retelling? Sign me up! (Note: this is technically the 7th in the Once Upon a Harem series, but each story in the series is written by a different author and stands alone, so don't let the series thing intimidate you! This is my first read in the OUAH series, so I can vouch that it stood completely alone.) So now this has been my first book by Proserpina, and I'm glad to say it was a total success.

While Beauty Sleeps has an amazing premise -- it's a reverse harem retelling of Sleeping Beauty. How cool is that? Proserpina also put a unique little spin on the curse put on Kumiko, adding an extra layer to the story that I very much enjoyed. On the level of being a retelling, I'd say this one was amazing. It had a whimsical, enchanting feel. But the story also felt so fresh. It was well executed.

The characters were another strong point in the story. Kumiko was the best developed, I think, and I liked getting to know her. Her sisters were pretty great too. Then there were the guys. I liked some more than others -- I think this is mostly because a couple of them were better developed than the others. Dai and Goro were my favorites (Dai more than Goro). Reiji was awesome, I just wish we'd gotten to know him BETTER. Same with Wataru. That said, I loved getting to be in all their minds throughout the story, and though I wish a couple of them were developed more thoroughly I did grow very fond of them.

The best way to describe the romance was sweet. So, so, so very sweet. I adored the relationships between Kumiko and her princes. I like how pure it was. How cute. It started as "maybe we won't be in love, but we'll definitely be friends because I like this person" to more and it was lovely. And the romance fit perfectly into the enchanting atmosphere of the story as a whole.

All that said, I do have a few *slight* issues. The first of which I already mentioned -- the little lack of character development. As I said above, I ended up fond of them anyway so it's not a huge deal, but it's worth mentioning. My other gripe is the timeline of the novel...maybe I wasn't paying enough attention and missed something but I don't think the timeline matched up. It started with there being two weeks until Kumiko's 21st birthday. Then the princes were there for a few days. Then all of a sudden her birthday was the upcoming Wednesday. Maybe I simply lost track of days in the time in between? But if I did, that'd probably mean it was hard to follow/keep track of, which is still worth at least mentioning. 

Overall, While Beauty Sleeps is a sweet and dazzling retelling! I really enjoyed this one, and definitely plan on picking up more by Proserpina soon. If the idea of a unique, reverse harem version of Sleeping Beauty intrigues you, I say give this one a shot! 

4 stars - A sweet & dazzling Sleeping Beauty retelling--featuring a reverse harem!

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