Creeping Beauty

HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Aug. 2023. 368p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780062422477.
Gr 7 Up–Bitsy would rather read books by herself than live up to her duty as the princess of Roix. Her adoring parents are the one bright spot in the life she would do anything to escape. Then one day, she pricks her finger on a spindle and falls down into a fantastical world that has been “built out of spite.” There she travels through many kingdoms and narrowly escapes multiple attempts on her life. As she eagerly searches for a way to return home to her parents, she discovers that standing up for what’s right is more important than being beautiful and non-confrontational. This fantasy is quick, light, and fun. Bitsy is a character readers will root for, but her unexpected romantic feelings for an elderly man who sells her into slavery will leave readers perplexed, albeit surprised at the kiss they’ll never see coming. Many aspects of Bitsy’s dream world don’t make sense, and no thought is given to the possibly dead friends she leaves behind when she wakes up. The ending features a plot twist that promises to lead to a sequel, but the unexpected turn casts a shadow on the relationship between Bitsy and her parents, which is one of the bright spots of this novel. Bitsy reads white.
VERDICT A fun read on the surface, but closer examination leaves gaping plot holes and a disconcerting romance.

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