________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 8. . . .October 21, 2011


Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer. (Twisted Tales).

Maureen McGowan.
San Diego, CA: Silver Dolphin (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 2011.
330 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-60710-256-4.

Subject Headings:
Plot-your-own stories.
Fairy tales.

Grades 8-12 / Ages 12-17.

Review by Rob Bittner.

*** /4



“Here is the gift.” Natasha [Queen of the Vampires] glared down at the assembled crowd of royalty and dignitaries. “One day, the princess will prick her finger, and the instant her blood is shed, she shall never again wake while the sun is in the sky. Every morning, as the sun breaks above the horizon, the princess will fall into a deep sleep, waking only as night falls.” The vampire queen smiled. “And every other citizen of Xandra will suffer the opposite fate. They will fall asleep each night leaving the princess along in the darkness.”

This is definitely not Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. This is Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer. This girl has a personality, and she’s not afraid to use it. Of course, she’s not too afraid to stake a vampire trying to feed on her unconscious mother either. I will not lie and say that I was excited to read this book as soon as it found its way into my hands, but, after reading the first chapter, I was willing to let my hesitancies fall away. Lucette, sleeping beauty’s name in this re-telling, is more of an athletic, strong-willed, feminist younger sister than her Disney precursor.

      Not only has the little girl grown up to become a child with a personality, but the rest of the story has been nicely modified as well. Instead of an evil fairy, Lucette is cursed by the Vampire Queen, a woman who rules the neighbouring country with an iron fist. The curse, itself, has been re-worked in such a way that Lucette, instead of laying in her glass coffin, hanging out until her Prince Charming comes along, is actually awake at night when the rest of the country is unable to escape sleep, and she is left on her own with only the vampires for company. And those vampires mostly just want to suck her dry.

      But, upon meeting one vampire who goes against all her expectations, Lucette is forced to rethink the entire situation. Is the Vampire Queen just out to get her, or is there a much higher purpose to the curse? When Alex, the vampire that challenges Lucette’s assumptions of the undead, tells Lucette about a world where animals are humanely bled and where Vampires only purchase animal blood for consumption, something doesn’t quite click. Is Alex lying? Are her parents partly to blame? The only thing she knows is that it’s a good thing she ended up going to Vampire Slayer Academy to learn the tools of the trade for those longs nights protecting the castle from the blood sucking fiends.

      Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer is equal parts camp, action, and choose-your-own-adventure. Unfortunately, what was gained by the choose-your-own-adventure style at the middle of the book was lost to me by having the same ending no matter what was chosen. While there are possible reasons for this, such as showing that one can’t go against fate, or that there are at least many approaches to the inevitable, I found that there was a sacrifice in content for a quirk in book style. The strengths could have easily become more intensified by allowing each chapter to move the story forward without having to choose between two. In the end, the nine chapter book, when read through one variation, is really only about five chapters, and in my opinion, four chapters too short.

      However, the intended younger girl (and yes, boys, too) audience (12-17 or so) may appreciate this ability to play with the relationships between Lucette and her suitors much more than I did. All in all, Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer is a book worth picking up. It is entertaining, contains moments of quirk and camp, and is a hearty new twist on a rather dull Disney character (at least in my humble opinion.) The literary world is calling for brave, kick-butt heroines, and here is one for the history books.


Rob Bittner will very shortly have an MA in Children’s and Young Adult Literature from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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