Little, Brown. Oct. 2021. 368p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780759557451.
Gr 7 Up–Miriam narrates this fae-retelling of “Sleeping Beauty” that gloriously features an adventure of a lifetime. The prolific Lackey challenges her readers with rich prose and sophisticated word choice in a wild ride, replete with royalty, knights, trolls, and a reluctant dragon. Miri, stepdaughter of King Karlson, finds out that she has magical powers at her baby sister Princess Aurora’s christening. She is responsible for protecting her sister from the Dark Fae who aims to harm the little one for political gain. Immediately, Miri and selected peers form “Aurora’s Companions” and train to use traditional chivalric tactics plus advantageous magic from Light Fae mentors to guard the baby. Readers will be spellbound by Miri’s misadventures and her relatable coming-of-age. Lackey weaves sensitive character interaction among humans, part-humans, and talking animals into a tapestry of rich vocabulary and death-defying scenarios. Even the minor characters are unforgettable, including Miri’s befuddled governess Belinda, who can’t bear the changes in Miri’s demeanor as she becomes more “knight” than “lady.” The sophistication of prose makes this title appropriate for upper middle grades, providing a bridge to authors such as Tamora Pierce and Anne McCaffrey. The author leaves readers wanting future quests and deepening relationships for Miri and her friends.
VERDICT Strongly recommended for upper middle grade/YA fans of the genre who prefer magical solutions over weapons and violence

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