“Sexy and dangerous and full of liars.” —Maggie Tokuda-Hall, author of The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea
The Cruel Prince meets A Curse So Dark and Lonely in this epic reimagining of “The Sleeping Beauty” that follows a teen girl on a quest to wake a sleeping princess in an enchanted forest, while searching for the truth behind her own deadly curse.
Lena has a secret: the touch of her skin can kill. Cursed by a witch before she was born, Lena has always lived in fear and isolation. But after a devastating mistake, she and her father are forced to flee to a village near the Silence, a mysterious forest with a reputation for luring people into the trees, never to be seen again…
Until the night an enigmatic girl stumbles out of the Silence and into Lena’s sheltered world. Miranda comes from the Gather, a city in the forest brimming with magic. She is on a quest to wake a sleeping princess believed to hold the key to liberating the Gather from its tyrannical ruler—and she offers Lena a bargain. If Lena assists her on her journey, Miranda will help her break the curse.
Mesmerized by Miranda and her promise of a new life, Lena jumps at the chance. But the deeper into the Silence she goes, the more she suspects she’s been lied to—about her family’s history, her curse, and her future. As the shadows close in, Lena must choose who to trust and decide whether it’s more important to have freedom…or power.
Wells (the Shatter the Sky duology) reinterprets "Sleeping Beauty," centering light brown skinned Lena, 17 and cursed since birth with the power to kill through a single touch. Ten years after her mother abandoned their family, Lena and her father must flee their home for the town of Onwey; they're charged with keeping villagers from entering an ominous, bewitching forest called the Silence. Having spent her life running from the witch who cursed her, as well as the memories of her own unintended victims, Lena is lonely and sheltered until a mysterious woman stumbles out of the Silence. Though the forest is known to be deadly, Lena accompanies her to the Gather, a city of magic within it that may hold the secret to both lifting Lena's deadly curse and finding the key to her heart. A first-person, RPG-style narrative results in thin characterizations and subsequently weak relationships, but Wells's straightforward handling of bisexual Lena's sex-positive attitude is a breath of fresh air. Wells swings for the fences, ambitiously conceiving a take on fairy tale magic that leans into fast-paced adventure. Ages 14 up. Agent: Rebecca Podos, Rees Literary.