Waking Rose



by Regina Doman

Published 2007

So, this is the third book of the Fairy Tales Retold series.  While the first book sort of introduced everyone and the second book focused on the older sister, Blanche, the third story is about the younger sister, Rose.

In the beginning, Blanche marries her hero, Bear, and they continue on their road of perfect coupleism.  Meanwhile, Rose has long harbored feelings for Bear’s younger brother, Fish, but Fish doesn’t reciprocate, a point he makes abundantly clear.  Rose decides that it is time to move on from Fish, and to simply enjoy life.  That fall, she starts school at a small Catholic college a few hours from home (but only about an hour from Fish).  She makes friends, becomes involved in the school play, and starts research for a huge paper.

First off, I’ll say that this book was fine.  The story was alright, and Doman’s ability to write a story sans magic that is still definitely a fairy tale is still impressive to me.  But out of the four Doman books I’ve read (I haven’t reviewed The Midnight Dancers yet), this one was by far and away the most far-fetched.  Just…  too much.  Too dramatic, too over-the-top.  While I really enjoyed watching the relationship develop between Rose and Fish (I think that that was really well done), the overall plot left me raising my eyebrows in confusion and surprise far too often (and not the good kind of surprise – more like Why in the world did you just do that?!!?  How is that a natural way for these characters to act/react?!?!).  

On top of that, Doman seemed determined to write this book very formally.  There’s a hint of that through all her books, revealed in the usage of words not always included in our common vernacular, but she goes overboard in Waking Rose.  For instance, this sentence:  “The progeny of the deceased nurse looked at each other dubiously.”  Are you serious!?  Couldn’t we just say “Mark and Frances”??  The whole book is like that.

The other thing (while I’m on a ranting role) that irrationally annoyed me about this book was the fact that whenever she switched viewpoints between Rose and Fish, she would title the new section “His” or “Hers.”  The point of view changes actually worked perfectly fine – it was an excellent way to get to know the two characters.  But neither voice was the first person – both were told in the third person, so it’s immediately obvious that we’ve switched to what Fish is thinking/saying/doing from what Rose is thinking/saying/doing.  The whole His and Hers things just seemed clunky and unnecessary (almost as unnecessary as me bothering to gripe about it).

Despite all that, and despite using a coma again to further her plot, overall the story wasn’t dreadful.  I haven’t been doing a very good job giving specific rankings to books lately (trying to get better again!), but I’d probably place the other two around a 4/5 (maybe more like high 3s??), and this one at a low 3/5.  A fun read, but one that could have easily been shorter, simpler, and a little more believable.

True Courage



by Dee Henderson

Published 2004

I AM SO BEHIND ON BOOK REVIEWS.  Sorry!  It’s been crazy busy somehow, but I have a couple of Amelia Peabody mysteries, two more Regina Doman books, the first couple of books in Diana Wynne Jones’s Chrestomanci series, a Robin McKinley book I’d never read, the beginning of Donita Paul’s dragon series, and the long-awaited The War That Ended Peace that I’ve been reading for MONTHS.  So hopefully I’ll have some time for posting soon!

For now, let’s wrap up Henderson’s “Uncommon Heroes” series –

This book was really a one-off.  The other three books, while not particularly building on each other, still went together, with characters who had been in forefront of earlier books appearing in the background, and vice versa.  But no familiar faces appear in True Courage, and I really have no idea why it’s considered part of the series instead of just its own book.

True Courage was also a lot more intense than the other three books.  While they ended up being more about the relationships, this book had a bit more kick to it, with an actual criminal to pursue.  Obviously, Luke and Caroline’s developing relationship is a large part of the story, but there was a lot more of the thriller about this book.  However, it was no near the standards of the O’Malley series, and while this book (and the other three) were fine reads, I would definitely recommend starting with the O’Malleys for some actual don’t-read-by-yourself-on-a-stormy-night thriller material.