cover image Briar and Rose and Jack

Briar and Rose and Jack

Katherine Coville. Clarion, $16.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-328-95005-5

This intelligently written fairy tale remix of “Sleeping Beauty” and “Jack and the Beanstalk” follows headstrong twins Rose and Briar from their births to their 16th birthday. When Briar, the kingdom’s rightful heir, is born with “a malformed face,” the king bestows the future crown upon beautiful Rose. Though a magical crone midwife intervenes to ensure that Briar is given a fair share of the fairies’ customary gifts, Rose becomes the darling of the castle. Briar, meanwhile, raised by the midwife, experiences cruelty but is gradually embraced by the villagers, especially a dauntless young peasant named Jack. Together, Briar, Rose, and Jack vow to kill the horrible Giant who terrorizes the kingdom demanding gold. There are no real surprises for those who know the two plots, but the sometimes-tumultuous friendship between Rose and Briar gives the story a sweet heart. Unfortunately, text by Coville (Ivy) stays true to many of the traditional—and stereotypical—representations common to fairy tales, particularly with its emphasis on female beauty and white characters. And though a man ends up saving the day, Coville does empower her princesses. Ages 10–12. [em](June) [/em]