Remedy – A Sleeping Beauty Story, by Sonya Writes
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by the author in exchange for an honest review.]
This is the second novella in the author’s “Fairy Tales Retold” series , and like the other story that I have read and reviewed, it wrestles with matters of family and politics and love. This particular story also bears elements with the other fairy-tale related novel I have in my collection  in that it deals with the romance of a prince and the spirited tomboyish daughter of a family tied by service to a royal family. Here, though, the danger to the well being of young people (and it is striking just how many fairy tales deal with young people in peril) does not spring from an evil authority but rather an excessively paranoid one.
Having dealt with my fair share of paranoid parents over unwanted friendship and courtship in the course of my life, there was a lot of this particular story that was easy to relate to. The prince and his beloved young lady, both of whom do not use their real names with each other and have a long friendship that eventually blooms into a passionate romance that springs largely from their isolation from others in an atmosphere of mistrust in which each of them becomes the trusted confidant of the other. The depth of love and genuine respect that comes from two people whose relationship was founded on sneaking around with each other, not using their real names, and seeking to evade responsibilities is somewhat questionable, but for the purposes of a fairy tale, that is the approach that this story chooses to take.
Containing about a hundred pages of material, this short novel uses a certain interest in chemistry (namely sleeping pills) to drive forward the plot of a young woman imprisoned in a tower because she is wrongfully charged of kidnapping the prince after her parents were wrongfully charged by the same queen of killing her husband the king. When one compares this story with her retelling of Rapunzel , a certain parallel is revealed that demonstrates that whether a ruler is evil or merely paranoid and full of mistrust, the resulting behavior is often similarly destructive. The intersection of high politics and personal drama demonstrates that leaders are people whose personal fears and foibles have a strong influence on the nations and institutions that they lead. This is a lesson that is useful to reflect upon for those who are leaders or who wish to be. Our personal psychology takes on massive consequences as we gain in power and influence, and we ignore these deeply personal matters to our peril.
Thoughtful readers who examine this novel will wonder why keeping secrets is of such importance. Leila Rose, the heroine of the story, spends almost the entire plot ignorant of either the supposed offenses of her parents or of the identity of her beloved friend (and fiancè), leaving her in grave danger because she lacks the knowledge of the truth to refute the lies and fear of the queen who wishes to torment her through questioning despite knowing her innocence. So much of the trouble that the characters in this story deal with could have been resolved with greater openness and at least some willingness to give the benefit of the doubt to those we do not trust but who are not wicked. As is often the case, fairy tales can teach us serious lessons about our own lives and behavior and the deeper significance of our moral and behavioral choices, if we are willing to pay attention. Sadly, though, such stories are often relegated to children’s literature, and adults often ignore such lessons as might remind us that such stories and the lessons they contain remain applicable and relevant to our own lives.