Book Review: Briar Rose

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Author: Jana Oliver
ISBN: 978-1-4472-4109-6
RRP: $16.99

Briar Rose is a modern fairy tale based on Sleeping Beauty and I couldn’t help but go off to do some research because the name Briar Rose sounded like it really did fit fairy tales. It is set in the small Georgian town of Bliss where Briar Rose lives, the home of an annual Civil War re-enactment and practitioners of hoodoo – not to be mistaken for voodoo.

Briar Rose is approaching her 16th birthday, seriously overprotected by her mother and embroiled in a decade old family feud. She is very much a romantic and believes in fairy tales, has always been on the lookout for her own prince charming but the few guys she has tried to get close to have fallen far short of the mark.

Sleeping Beauty and Briar Rose have quite a bit in common, including the fact that they are both cursed. Briar Rose is cursed to die on her 16th Birthday but the local hoodoo elder helps to change the curse enough to give her a chance. Briar ends up in a nightmarish fairy tale from her own imagination that she has to fight her way free of if she is ever to get a happily ever after – or any ever after at all.

This book is fast paced, imaginative and enjoyable. It engaged and intrigued me wanting to find out about the curse and how it came to be, an answer we are left waiting almost until the end of the book for.

Firmly planted in fairy tales this book offers much in the way of learning self awareness, personal growth and self discovery. It is as firmly grounded in modern technology as in fairy tales.

briar rose

Bliss is an old southern town with many of the same families in residence as there were at the time of the Civil War which helps add a depth to the history as the descendants of those lost in the Civil War are still in town to take the place of their ancestors in the re-enactment.

The family feud ignited and tore apart more than one set of friends. Briar Rose and Joshua Quinn were best friends at the tender age of 6 until they almost drowned in the river. It was soon after this that the feud began and the pair were forbidden from spending time together. Difficult in a small town when they are the same age and often in the same classes, but it was something they had to learn to do because trying to retain their friendship wasn’t worth the punishment that was sure to follow.

Briar lays down in the time approaching midnight and is encouraged to try and fight the curse, not to give up and let it win. Instead of falling dreamlessly to sleep or dying she wakes in a town very much like Bliss but rustic, from a time long past, where the villagers are all living in fear of a tyrannical Regent in control of the kingdom until someone comes along that can awaken the sleeping Princess Aurora.

As you can imagine, things are very different for Briar Rose here than they were in Bliss but to her credit she fast learns to adjust and discovers an ally very soon after her awakening. The two build a rapport and work together to try and break the curses, against high odds and much danger.

Her best friend, Reena, is learning the ways of hoodoo and she is determined to help Briar so she works on a way to get into the curse and help Briar find her way out. She takes one of her friends and an admirer of Briar’s in with her and once there discovers that they have accidentally brought another boy from school with them.

Living inside the curse these four teens discover a lot about themselves as they fight for their survival and their way out, and they learn to look at one another in a different light. They learn to believe in themselves, and each other, as they battle the evil of fairy tales to fight for their happily ever after.

I enjoyed this book, it was my first Jana Oliver novel so I have nothing to compare it to. The characters were realistic and relatable, fairy tale setting aside. Briar had always been quite accommodating, she didn’t try to push the boundaries her overprotective mother set, her time in the curse helped her to build up the strength to start standing up for herself and fighting for what she wants out of life which was good to see. The way she was written demonstrated that the strength was always within her, she just needed a little help learning to tap into it.

An entartaining light read to while away the hours on these gorgeous spring days that are beginning.

One thought on “Book Review: Briar Rose

  1. Oh my goodness….i have no idea how this book slipped past me but now I simply must get a copy.
    I named my youngest daughter Briar Rose and a copy of this book would be just perfect for her for Christmas….and i would like a copy for myself 🙂

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