In this new stand-alone fairy tale, Princess Annie is the younger sister to Gwen, the princess destined to be Sleeping Beauty. When Gwennie pricks her finger and the whole castle falls asleep, only Annie is awake, and only Annie—blessed (or cursed?) with being impervious to magic—can venture out beyond the rose-covered hedge for help. She must find Gwen’s true love to kiss her awake.
But who is her true love? The irritating Digby? The happy-go-lucky Prince Andreas, who is holding a contest to find his bride? The conniving Clarence, whose sinister motives couldn’t possibly spell true love? Joined by one of her father’s guards, Liam, who happened to be out of the castle when the sleeping spell struck, Annie travels through a fairy tale land populated with characters both familiar and new as she tries to fix her sister and her family . . . and perhaps even find a true love of her own.
I’ve read a couple of other books by E. D. Baker, so I knew going in that I would probably enjoy The Wide-Awake Princess, and I did. Annie is a plucky, down to Earth protagonist. Giving her the fairy gift of being impervious to magic was an interesting twist on the usual fairy tale story, and led to funny consequences. Baker also pulled in a number of well known fairy tales that Annie ends up a part in and I enjoyed seeing how Annie’s participation in them twisted these familiar stories. The book also had a great sense of humor.
My one negative moment was SPOILER that Annie ends up falling in love. I forget if Annie’s specific age is specified, but she has an older sister who turns 16 at the start of the book. I pegged Annie as being around 14. Because of this, it was a little uncomfortable to read about her being “in love”. Baker did a nice job building up the relationship between her and Liam, and if they had ended dating or starting a relationship, that would have been fine, but the insistence on it being LOVE didn’t sit as well with me given Annie’s age. This didn’t really become a factor until the last chapter or so of the book, but still.
A fun book that’s great for a quick read for older readers, or a great fairy tale story for younger ones.