Monday, September 10, 2012

{Blog Tour} Review: The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)

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The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy #1
by A.N. Roquelaure a.k.a. Anne Rice
Publication Date: May 1999 (First published in 1983)
Publisher: Plume
Pages/Format: 253; Paperback
Source: Publisher

From bestselling author Anne Rice, writing as A.N. Roquelaure. In the traditional folktale of 'Sleeping Beauty,' the spell cast upon the lovely young princess and everyone in her castle can only be broken by the kiss of a Prince. It is an ancient story, one that originally emerged from and still deeply disturbs the mind's unconscious. Now Anne Rice's retelling of the Beauty story probes the unspoken implications of this lush, suggestive tale by exploring its undeniable connection to sexual desire. Here the Prince reawakens Beauty, not with a kiss, but with sexual initiation. His reward for ending the hundred years of enchantment is Beauty's complete and total enslavement to him…as Anne Rice explores the world of erotic yearning and fantasy in a classic that becomes, with her skillful pen, a compelling experience.
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The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty strays far and wide from the traditional fairy tale of 'Sleeping Beauty'. Anne Rice, writing as A.N. Roquelaure, tells of Beauty's story from her awakening to her enslavement to the Prince in a nearby kingdom. Anne Rice says it best in her preface where she states, "Every page is about sexual fulfillment." Indeed, there isn't one boring section of the story and every page has either thoughts, or actions, of some form of intimacy. 

The story is undoubtedly erotica, but not the type of story one could appropriately ascribe love to as an element of the plot. Even though the world Rice built caters to BDSM and other unusual sexual fantasies, the actions of the characters were cruel and at most times unappealing. All of the secondary characters, such as the Lords and Ladies of the court, are trying to teach Beauty that pain enhances sexual encounters and will eventually equate to the love of her master, the Prince, or anyone else in the palace taking control of her. The belief is that the love slaves will eventually leave enslavement as better leaders because of their learning self-control and other valuable traits. The underlying theme is dominance and submission, but the story's cringe-worthy depiction is somewhat loud.

The main protagonist, Beauty, is a young and apparently spoiled princess. She's so timid, scared, and soft that it's extremely hard to picture her in the environment that Rice places her in The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty. In the end, though, Beauty rebels against the court's expectations of her submissiveness. Rice's method of closing the first book in the Sleeping Beauty Trilogy is certainly unexpected, but may leave readers with more of a curious, than sexual, appetite.
*Book provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review and blog tour purposes*

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