cover image Briarheart


Mercedes Lackey. Little, Brown, $18.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7595-5745-1

When one of the Dark Fae crashes her baby half sister Aurora’s christening, 15-year-old Princess Miriam of Tirendell instinctively moves to block the curse, in the process discovering her own innate magical talents in this leisurely paced “Sleeping Beauty” reimagining. Finding that she’s Fae-blooded by way of her deceased birth father, Miriam vows to use her powers to protect Aurora from future attacks, and, along with five other teens collectively known as Aurora’s Companions, hones her martial and magical skills. The newly minted, default white squires immerse themselves in intensive training, seeking to discover whether Miriam’s power stems from the Light Fae or the Dark, and to thwart other attempts on the infant princess’s life, but their real trial arrives sooner than expected. Lackey (the Valdemar series) immerses her epic fantasy in medieval verisimilitude, balancing fantastical elements such as talking animals and feuding fairies with the everyday details of baking and architecture. At times the attention to minutiae bogs down the plot, but it also adds depth to this imaginative exploration of, and deviation from, a classic tale. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)