Title: Briar Rose
Author: Jane Yolen
Rating: 4/5 stars
A powerful, modern day retelling of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, Jane Yolen's Briar Rose takes the fairy tale and recreates it in a way that is compelling, tragic and heartwarming. Rebecca's grandmother Gemma has told her stories of Briar Rose as long as Rebecca can remember. The stories became an intricate part of Rebecca's childhood and adolescence, but when Gemma passes away, Rebecca discovers just how intricately the stories were woven through the mystery that was Gemma's life as well. A deathbed promise to Gemma takes Rebecca halfway around the world, uncovering the mystery of Gemma's shrouded past, as well as giving Rebecca a renewed sense of herself.
Briar Rose is part of Terri Windling's Fairy Tale series, retellings of fairy tales by modern day authors. Jane Yolen chose the story of Sleeping Beauty to be the basis for her contribution to the series. Once I got into the story, I picked up fairly quickly on where she was going with the and I don't want to give it away, but this is not your typical fairy tale. Yolen has deftly managed to incorporate a very real tragedy and make it into something magical. It doesn't have the happily-ever-after that most would be looking for in a fairy tale; instead she has crafted a story of the strength and resolve of the human spirit and it's ability to overcome even the worst in life.