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.
The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by A.N. Roquelaure (aka Anne Rice)
Paperback : 253 pages
Publisher: Plume (May 1, 1999; Reprint)
Series: Sleeping Beauty Trilogy #1
To tell you the truth, I’m really not sure where to begin with this review. The Sleeping Beauty trilogy appealed to me due to its comparison to the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by E.L. James, and being that I enjoyed the Fifty Shades trilogy so much, I thought why not give Anne Rice’s a try. I was intrigued by the idea of retelling one of the popular fairy tales for adults and wondered if it would be somewhat realistic or over the top. Was taking a chance on this trilogy worth the time? Looking back, I’d have to say yes and no.
Let’s just get it out in the open now. This series is in no way comparable to the Fifty Shades trilogy as far as I’m concerned. First, it lacked the romance angle that made E.L. James’ trilogy so worthwhile. The characters weren’t easy to relate to. However, I did find a large portion of Beauty’s experiences either interesting or horrendous. Secondly, the fairytale angle gets lost in the intense world/lifestyle Rice created, leaving me with the thought…Why even mention Sleeping Beauty in the first place. Maybe I’m being a little too harsh.
Being a member of a royal family doesn’t save you or put you on a pedestal in this retelling. In fact, the characters that are the servants to the queen are men/women of royalty. The enslaved servants, including Beauty, spend the entire novel in the buff, often in tears from being spanked thoroughly. The living conditions and treatment of the servants at the castle really does set the tone for Beauty’s adventure and the story wouldn’t work if it was any other way. In this installment, Rice does pull out all the stops as far as erotica goes. The sexual encounters and punishments increase tenfold the further you read into the series, but The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty is much lighter than the encounters to come.
In the end, I found that The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty was interesting, albeit harsh in some ways. The heat level is definitely up there in comparison to the Fifty Shades trilogy. Honestly, I don’t know who came up with the idea that they were comparable, but in my opinion they’re on opposite ends of the erotica spectrum. Rice delves deeper into the BDSM arena, giving readers a birds-eye view into the fetishes and pain vs pleasure realm. Would I recommend this book to my friends? It’s a difficult sell but if you’re open-minded, you should take a chance. My review of Beauty’s Punishment and Beauty’s Release are coming soon.
1 The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty
2 Beauty’s Punishment
3 Beauty’s Release