Waking Rose is the third book in the Fairytales Retold series by Regina Doman. I am not going to review every single book in this series, but Waking Rose is one of my favorites and I thought it would be worthwhile and fun to share some of my thoughts on this book. While Doman’s books all connect, each story stands on its own. You do not necessarily have to read every book in order, though it helps to read them in order simply to keep up with the different characters she introduces into the different books.
As you may have already guessed, Waking Rose is based off of the classic fairytale Sleeping Beauty and focuses on and develops the characters Rose Briar and Benedict (Fish) Dennison. Doman first introduced these characters in her first book The Shadow of the Bear and then again in Black as Night but this is the first book where Rose and Fish are the main characters. This is the longest book of the whole series and I thought it interesting that Doman spent more than twice the amount of paper fleshing out Rose and Fish’s relationship as opposed to all the other characters. But then I’m not surprised given how popular and beloved these characters are. So, without further ado...
1. The characters are by far the best part of this book. The amount of new characters Doman introduces in this story is no doubt the reason it is so thick. Katari Kovach, Alex O’Donnell, Paul Fester and the rest of the Knights of Sacra Cor. While the first two books stay within the small social confines of Blanche and Rose and their little family world, this book seems to burst with vibrant people everywhere...which only makes sense because this book is all about Rose’s world.
2. Fish. He seriously is the best hero ever. When I first read this book, I didn’t like Fish. Suddenly he was complicated, angsty, scarred and I was annoyed that the cocky, humorous, careless person was seemingly destroyed. But when I reread this book, I found a new appreciation for Fish. He was real. He was broken. He was wrestling sins and demons that are all-too relatable in our culture, temptations that Rose was so innocently unaware of, sins that Fish’s brother could not understand...
3. Rose. Like Fish, I found Rose initially annoying. Why was she so stupid? Why was she hopelessly in love with a guy who didn’t love her? But then one morning I woke up and realized that the only reason I get so frustrated with Rose is because I pretty much am Rose. She’s a hopeless romantic, an idealist, a believer and a dreamer.
4. While none of Doman’s books contain any explicit or inappropriate content, I would say that her subject matter, especially in this book, is intended for more mature readers. This book deals with a lot of hefty subjects, such as euthanasia, abortion, abuse and homosexuality. I would not recommend this book for anyone younger than fifteen years old. I also would recommend for younger readers to talk through some of the issues addressed in this book with your parents when you are done reading.
I read this book with my younger sister Christa and it provided a great platform for talking about some of these social, spiritual and emotional topics.
5. As with the previous books, I appreciated the way Doman incorporated the spiritual questions and the religion of her characters in this book without making her message sound “preachy”. Her books never really have “one message” but rather consist of the everyday human struggles every saint faces. I think that’s what makes her writing so effective.
1. I really did not like the main villain in this story. While Doman gave her plenty of motives, I still felt like I never understood why the villain was doing what she did, why she was targeting Rose so vehemently. I wished Doman had gone into her personal past a little more, maybe provided a little more character development on her part.
2. The storyline. I actually thought the whole Sleeping Beauty premise for the characters Rose and Fish did not work out so well. The book started dragging about halfway through (when Rose falls asleep) and while it was nice to have extra time to flesh out Fish’s character and see him work through some of his own personal problems, I felt like in the meantime the author sort of forgot about the main villain and everything kind of deadpanned for a while.
For those of you who have read the book let me know what you think of the following theory. I have always thought that maybe Beauty and the Beast would have been a better storyline for Fish and Rose. Since the focus of Waking Rose was Rose and Fish’s relationship, I thought the villain in this story somewhat distracted from the heart of the story instead of contributing to it. Beauty and the Beast has no villain and is a story driven by the relationship of the two main characters. What do you think?
3. Villain confusion. There were too many bad guys in this story. There was Freet, who was still haunting Fish. There was the crazy doctor who was trying to kill Rose and I’m still not sure why. There was the mentally unstable rival, Donna, who also had a grudge against Rose but later proved to be innocent...
4. The “fairies”. In the story Rose has three godmothers, three nuns of the same convent, who supplement as her “fairies”. I personally did not like these three characters at all. They were weird and the way they supplied convenient information through their “prophecies” was annoying and not very creative. Kind of like the evil doctor, I felt like they distracted from the storyline and plot instead of contributing to it.
I was disappointed because Doman’s use of the monks as the seven dwarves in her previous book Black as Night was very convincing but a lot of her parallels and analogies of the original fairytale in Waking Rose fell flat.
Overall I still rate this book 4 out of 5 and recommend it to anyone fifteen years and older who is looking for an exciting, meaningful and fun read!
Have you ever read this book? If so, what did you think? What are some things you liked or disliked about it? Let me know in the comments!