Born with a rare condition, Zinnia Gray is celebrating her 21stbirthday which is probably the last birthday she’ll ever have. She’s been obsessed with the story of Sleeping Beauty for most of her life and her best friend Charm is throwing her a themed party, complete with spinning wheel. But, when Zinnia pricks her finger on the spindle, she is transported into a Sleeping Beauty story where she works to save Princess Primrose from the curse.
Zinnia loves Sleeping Beauty because she relates to the woman who is cursed yet refuses to die. Suffering from Generalized Roseville Malady, Zinnia’s body is betraying her and she is quickly approaching death. She’s desperate for an adventure and gets one when she is transported into Princess Primrose’s world just in time to stop Primrose from pricking her finger on the spindle. The two take matters into their own hands by hunting for the witch her cursed her, where they learn the curse was intended to be more of a blessing to avoid an unwanted marriage. After a misunderstanding, Zinnia has to call on other Sleeping Beauties from other universes to save Primrose from marriage and transport Zinnia back to her own time.
This is a really quick and amusing read with a fun feminist, sci-fi bend to a traditional fairytale. One interesting aspect to falling through this multiverse is that Zinnia’s cell phone still works so she is able to communicate with Charm throughout her time with Primrose. I thought this was a fun twist to the story.
Zinnia is an interesting character and her best friend, Charm, is funny and supportive in a really lovely way. They had amusing banter back and forth through text and were fun when they were together. I also liked that Primrose had a bit of an edge to her, even though she was stuck in a fairytale where she’s doomed to either die or marry a man. Primrose has a hidden dagger, journeys through the forest to the witch’s house without complaint, and ends up in a rather charming relationship with Charm. All three of these main characters were amusing, dynamic, and a little snarky which was good fun.
Personally, I found the narrative to be a little overly complicated and there were moments where I felt the novella was trying too hard to be funny and pop-culture relevant. I think I have that feeling somewhat frequently with Tor books, does anyone else feel that way?
So overall, a fun romp with some inconsistencies. I didn’t love it, but I did like it. And I think Alix Harrow is a lovely writer, so it’s always fun to inhabit her worlds.
If you’ve read this book, let me know what you thought!