You must pick up a fairytale with open eyes. The well-worn road to fairyland is practically paved with princesses, curses, and talking cats. Yet for those not too “grown-up” to venture into the land of fairies, ogres, and millers’ sons, Poison Kiss offers a quick, entertaining read that delivers exactly to genre.
Everyone’s heard of the “Sleeping Beauty” story, so when the king hears that his daughter is to fill the role in the next cycle of the tale, he deliberately snubs the evil fairy and prepares to ban all spinning wheels.
When the fairy responsible for the curse brings originality to the course of events and switches the cure for the curse, the horrified kingdom is left to fear “love’s first kiss” – and wonder how a spinning wheel will help reverse the whole thing.
Although this world seems to function with a strange repetition of events, with classic tales occasionally replaying with fresh casts, the king takes steps to protect the princess from all young men (potential kissers), proving that wherever we find a curse or prophecy, one of man’s first instincts is to try to subvert it.
The adventure moves briskly, with just enough description to hint at the world, but in the best tradition of Andrew Lang there’s not enough to bog down the proceedings.
Poison Kiss deliberately borrows from other sources – the hapless doctor’s apprentice who triggers the curse sets out to reverse it with, of course, Puss in Boots (who ditched the boots as soon as his public image no longer required them). The pair travel to consult an “Enchanter” who spins in his spare time…spins straw…and is accustomed to being sought out by millers’ daughters with incautiously boastful fathers…
These derivations are the beating heart of Poison Kiss… It takes its source material on a fast-paced, sprightly romp, with no pretensions of profundity or melancholy high-handedness to drag at its bright pace. It may be a child dressed up in adult clothes, but the childlike glee it takes in its imaginings allow it to be forgiven.
Yet to say it was totally derivative would be untrue: the hero’s backstory was quite unexpected to me, and his self-effacing nature and simple attitude of service were refreshing. There was also a blessed absence of angst or other emotional drama.
The way every fairytale referenced was drawn tightly back into relationship with the others was a little dissatisfying to me…In theory, I consider that a little randomness and coincidence add to a story’s realism. In practice, however, having everyone related to everyone else seemed unnecessary to me.
Long story short, if you are the type of reader who eats unicorns for breakfast and thinks that “no tower is complete without a princess in it” (or vice versa), then this book will give you an easy-going tale of true loves, fairy meddlings, and universal happily-ever-afters.
(Note: a number of editorial errors reinforced the vibe of a “child” story. These were mostly omitted words, though near the end a character is mis-named as one of the others.)
Disclaimer: I received a free ebook copy of Poison Kiss in exchange for my TOTALLY HONEST review. All opinions are my own, expressed as candidly as possible.
My own books are also part of the sale. Check them out – there’s a genre for everyone 😊 And hurry – the sale ends on the 30th!