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Briar Rose

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A dark and sexy reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale from the author of THE DEMON TRAPPERS.

For Briar Rose, life is anything but a fairy tale. She's stuck in a small town in deepest Georgia with parents who won't let her out of their sight, a bunch of small-minded, gossiping neighbours and an evil ex who's spreading nasty rumours about what she may or may not have done in the back of his car. She's tired of it all, so when, on her sixteenth birthday, her parents tell her that she is cursed and will go to sleep for a hundred years when the clock strikes midnight, she's actually kind of glad to leave it all behind. She says her goodbyes, lies down, and closes her eyes . . . And then she wakes up. Cold, alone and in the middle of the darkest, most twisted fairy tale she could ever have dreamed of. Now Briar must fight her way out of the story that has been created for her, but she can't do it alone. She never believed in handsome princes, but now she's met one her only chance is to put her life in his hands, or there will be no happy ever after and no waking up.

470 pages, Paperback

First published September 1, 2013

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About the author

Jana Oliver

43 books2,018 followers
Jana Oliver is an international and Amazon bestselling author who lives in Portugal.

Her novels have won numerous awards, including the Prism Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Supense as well as the National Readers' Choice Award.

Her books include The Demon Trappers Series and Briar Rose (Young Adult), time travel/historical mystery (The Time Rovers Series) and paranormal romance (Tangled Souls).

She is co-author of Socially Engaged: The Author's Guide to Social media, written with Tyra Burton.

She is happiest when she's researching urban legends, peering at old maps and adding to her growing collection of port and Portuguese wines.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 197 reviews
September 7, 2016

It is a bad, bad thing when the best thing I can say about a book is that it started off feeling somewhat reminiscent of Beautiful Creatures. It's like licking a Tootsie Pop. It's not exactly good in the first place, but then you get to the center...thing, and instead of a crappy mockolate core, you get 31 fucking flavors of dumb.

Time for a pop quiz! Don't worry, I'm a nice person. It'll be short.

Your mom tells you you're going to die on your 16th birthday, without any proof whatsoever, you:
a) laugh in her face
b) nod politely, while wondering if your defective genes will get passed down to your children one day
c) dress yourself in your favorite nightgown, adjust your pillows, surround yourself with candles, and wait to die

You are stuck in a evil, bad, no-good-whatsoever fairy tale world with bloodthirsty wolves, crazed fairies, ruled by an insane motherfucking regent, you:
a) run the fuck away from anything, everything
b) try to blend in with the locals
c) are concerned about drinking unpasteurized milk

You meet a young man. He appears poor. He claims to be a stablehand. But then he tells you offhand that he buys his clothes instead of making them. You:
a) shrug it off, clothes are clothes
b) don't really pay any attention to the random comment, it's clothes, for fuck's sake
c) know he's secretly a prince or a nobleman, because only such a wealthy person can afford to BUY clothes

If you answered C to all the questions, as Briar did, I don't want to be harsh or anything, but kindly remove yourself from my friends list. Clearly, we are not meant to be because YOU FAIL AT LIFE. Go on, get out of here.

Bad books are a dime a dozen, but every so often, I bump into one of these gems: a book so bad it renders me speechless. I am simply at a loss for words as to how to even get started on this review. There are so many problems, I hardly know where to start. Let's put it this way: this is the worst fairy tale reimagining I have ever read, and among the worst books I have read this year. The characters are devoid of personality. The plot doesn't make any fucking sense. The characters are always fucking right in any random-ass assumptions they make. The main character (Briar) is as dumb as a brick, half as interesting, and 10 times harder to destroy. There is a love triangle.

There is a rampant amount of girl-on-girl hatred because Briar believes that every single girl who even so much as fart in the general direction of a guy she has her eyes on is a total bitch and probably a slut. Large-breasted women, turn away from this book, because according to Briar Rose, large breasts are a mark (much like a scarlet letter) of implied idiocy and extreme sexual thirst.

If there is a formula for how to write a terrible YA fantasy, this book would fulfil every single variable. Just plug in, calculate, and there you have the disastrous results. At least this book eventually ended, right? Wrong. I love the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but you know what happens at the end of the Return of the King? 30 minutes of fucking NOTHING. It's parties, parties, parties! Drinking games with hobbitses! Conversation and chatting time with friends and family. Reflection!Yeah. Imagine 50+ pages of that. Fuck this book. This book was about 400 pages too long as far as the actual material that held my interest.

Summary: There is a reason this book is so ridiculously long, but just because it has an enormous fucking plot doesn't mean it's any good.

In Bliss, Georgia, the Hatfields and the McCoys ain't got nothing on the family rivalry that is the Roses and the Quinns. Their family have been at it for longer than anyone can remember, and for most of their life, Briar Rose and Joshua McQuinn haven't been allowed near one another. Their parents have never told them why, and, because TEENAGERS ALWAYS DO WHAT THEY'RE TOLD, Joshua and Briar have stayed away from each other, avoiding each other's glances, not sitting near each other in school, etc. Such good little children, such perfect teenagers, doing exactly what their parents tell them without reason, with perfect obedience. Fuck realism.

Joshua and Briar aren't Asian. They're white. But I know for a fact that they're Asian at heart, because that is some insane level of Asian-inspired obedience, man. I mean, I'M Asian, and I'm just in utter awe at the pure level of angelic goodness that is Briar and Joshua. I was a good kid, but don't know if I could have obeyed my family that well, man. Bow down, y'all. Respect. *sarcasm*

Briar is about to turn 16, and her mother, who has been generally batshit crazy for most of her life, has been batshit crazier lately. It turns out that Briar has been under a curse! A CURSE! She is going to die when she is 16. Briar doesn't believe it. So after a night of partying, during which Joshua does a big, bad, terrible, Very Bad thing of giving his mortal enemy a birthday gift of a silver charm bracelet, Briar goes home to find her entire family and her best friend sitting there, waiting for her to die. Even her father, who loves his wife but knows she is batshit crazy, has NOW come to some kind of fucking conclusion that for some fucking reason, his daughter really IS cursed when he was just protesting that there are no such thing as curses not a few fucking hours ago. With no explanation whatsoever besides "Just accept it," Briar believes it, and makes herself a nice, pretty bed in which she lies down to die, her family and friends holding a kumbaya-fucking-prayer circle over her body as she falls into a sleep from which she may never awaken!


But no! That's just the first 10% of the book. Briar awakens! Finds herself in a village! There are howling wolves, suspicious villagers, and a very, very handsome young man (Ruric) who for no fucking reason, decides to adopt the blonde, buxom, beauteous Briar as his "cousin" instead of finding her tale of being from another world anywhere suspicious in a town that looks like it fucking HANGS witches.

Ruric is gorgeous. He's supposed to be some lowly villager, but Briar doesn't believe it. I mean, he SOUNDS regal. He then tells Briar about the story about the sleeping Princess Aurora and all the evil fata (fairy thingies) that are haunting the village and the evil regent woman who's going around turning everything into metal and killing people like she's the Red Queen yelling "Off with their heads!" haphazardly if you happen to blink at her the wrong way. And the Princess Aurora looks supiciously like Briar! That's dangerous shit, y'all! Briar has to *sob* dye her golden hair a "raven black" (I shit you not) because surely, Clairol hair dye exists in a medieval fairy world, and it's dangerous for Briar to show her gorgeous sunshine-filled halo of hair in a village of brunettes because, well, off with her head! So Briar just goes along with everything Ruric says, because, he's gorgeous and he sounds like a prince, so therefore he is to be trusted at all cost. And Ruric, for some fucking reason, believes Briar holds the key, because he knows she's smart somehow, despite never having demonstrated an iota of fucking sense in the day (one day, a single day, 24 hours) in which they have known each other.
‘Your cunning and the fact that your hair is the same colour as our princess.
MEANWHILE, in the Real World (not the TV show) Joshua and his friend Reena (who so happens to also be Briar's best friend as well, despite the fact that Joshua and Briar aren't supposed to cross path) are looking for a way to enter Briar's fantasy world. Reena uses some freaking Hoodoo magic, summons shit, and BAM, they're right smack in the middle of Briar's dream-fairy-tale-world-nightmare...thing. Oh, wait, that's not all. Pat is also there. He's the gorgeous jock who tried (and failed) to seduce Briar on the eve of her birthday. Well, he's there too because he happened to touch the fucking charm from the bracelet that Joshua gave Briar (which he bought on the internet). Happy, happy, joy, joy. Everyone's here. Fuck me.

And NOW the group gets split up into Reena/Pat and Ruric/Joshua/Briar as they try to rescue the Princess Aurora. And the charm bracelet (which Joshua bought on the internet) turns out to be a super secret special weapon! And then after they try to rescue the Princess, they have to figure out a way to get rid of the regent. And then to get back home. And then they have to talk to their parents and explain everything after they get home. Because they're such exemplary Asian kids at heart.

The Plot: A fucking mess. There is way too much in this book, and none of it held my attention. The writing is fine, but I struggled to finish this book because the plot was way too long, way too complicated, and just overall horrible. I fucking hate the overuse of deus ex fucking machina and it is way too overused in this book. Plopped into a prison? Someone to the rescue! About to die! Let's jump on a gryphon which we've just conquered for no fucking reason 30 seconds earlier! Everything is so FUCKING CONVENIENT. Everyone is RIGHT. ALL THE FUCKING TIME. Make an assumption? It's correct! A character has an intuition out of fucking nowhere! It's true! Something is said to be big, bad, evil, horrible! I have a feeling it's good because I HAZ A FEELING. And it turns out to be true! Is there even a literary term for a kind of plot device in which your characters are fucking fortunetellers? Because deus ex fucking machina doesn't seem quite fucking enough for how pissed off I am at all the really really awesome instincts and impulses and assumptions in this fucking book.

For example:

His tone of voice had changed. It sounded almost regal, which triggered her suspicions. Maybe your dad isn’t just a reeve.

He’d made a big slip – poor people couldn’t afford to buy gowns for their daughters. They made everything by hand or bartered for it. It was clear that Ruric was of noble blood, maybe even a prince.

The Dumb: This is usually my "Characters" section, but really, there's no other way I can phrase it. Briar Rose is a fucking moron with the dumbest fucking chain of thoughts in the entire fucking world. She makes the most idiotic of assumptions. She has the stupidest feelings, instincts, suspicions, and they all turn out to be correct. She trusts people she shouldn't. She twists events around to suit her own needs and her own perception of things. And somehow, everything turns out to be the way she wants.
"If you assume the princess’s place, you may well have to remain here"
Could I do it? Maybe, once she got the dye out of her hair. In many ways, she’d been rehearsing for the role all her life.
What the fuck? No, you haven't! Out of fucking nowhere, she dreams of being a princess when in her life in the real world, there was no mention of her hopes, dreams, anything regarding the matter. I'm just too tired to go on ranting about all Briar's menu of dumb.

The Girl-Hating: Briar is a possessive little bitch. Any girl who even glances at a guy she likes is a dirty slut. Naturally, they all go after her handsome young men because they're thirsty bitches, not because they're just attracted to them. Briar shames the act of flirtation, attraction, any girl who dresses provocatively, flirts, makes eyes at a handsome young man is to be shamed. Anyone who looks at Briar when she is with an attractive young man is to be accused of jealousy. Any girl who goes after a young man must have indecently large breasts, because large breasts are immoral, shameful, lustful, an unnatural tool to incite lust. There is so much girl-on-girl hate in this book.

"‘People seem to like you,’ she said. Especially the girls, who tracked him wherever he went. Some primped their hair or swayed their hips enticingly whenever they thought he was looking in their direction."

"She knew the other girls were just waiting for her to make a mistake, and then one of them would swoop in to claim him."

"A young girl with jet-black hair and big breasts strode towards them. [She] clearly saw Ruric as the ideal husband and Briar as a liability."

"A deep yawn came next, her arms stretching up above her head, tightening the fabric over [Aurora's] ample breasts. A sight that neither of the guys missed."

"Though everyone said they looked similar, Saralyn had shorter hair and bigger boobs, which she liked to show off by wearing tops that were too small. That little trick bought her a lot of male attention, which she thrived on."

Fuck you, book.
Profile Image for Rachel E. Carter.
Author 9 books3,496 followers
January 27, 2023
I don't even know how to describe this book. It's the first time I've ever been really intrigued by steampunk elements, to be honest. It would have been a solid four stars if there had just been a bit more romance (not enough tension). Nevertheless, I couldn't stop reading this book. I don't know what about it was so captivating, it just was. A really fascinating not-quite-retelling that was more Grimm than Disney. Overall though, I did enjoy it. This is kind of what I wished the TV show Once Upon A Time was like.
May 5, 2020
Actual rating: 4.5🌟

Briar Rose is a sexy, dark retelling of Sleeping Beauty with an antebellum twist. Brimming with metallic beasts, monstrous tyrants, fairy-like creatures and a magical curse, Briar Rose takes everything you think you know about the classic tale before tuning it on its head. Okay, Briar Rose isn’t exactly award winning literature. The characters lack depth, the dialogue is iffy but, for what it’s worth, Briar Rose is an engaging adventure and the perfect guilty pleasure sure to cure any slump.

Set in a fictional, but conservative town in the Deep South, Briar Rose tells the story of Briar, a teenaged girl living underneath a family curse. Doomed to fall asleep on her sixteenth birthday, Briar finds herself trapped in a fractured fairy tale – weaved from her very own vivid imagination. With the help of a mysterious stable hand [who has an agenda of his own] Briar must fight her way out of the story. But the curse has a power of its own and getting home is easier said than done. It’s going to take some witchy magic, a fool’s bargain and a desperate quest – and that’s if she doesn’t lose her head first…

What I love the most about Jana Oliver’s retelling is its Gone with the Wind vibe and steampunk twist. Jana explores the Deep South’s conservative culture with both the Civil War and the history of old root magic. And while we only spend a little time in the fictional town of Bliss, Jana evokes the sense of a sleepy little town dripping with Southern charm.

But like I said, we only spend a little time in Bliss. Before we’ve found our footing we’re swept up in the curse and into the world of Sleeping Beauty. Although this tale is closer to that of the Brothers Grimm than the whimsy of Walt Disney’s, complete with an evil regent.

I’m not going to lie to you, its Jana’s world building and the incredible concept of her plot that really steals the limelight. The medieval fantasy world is fully-fleshed and it practically envelopes you in its gothic spell – you can actually smell the reek of unwashed bodies and feel the cobblestoned pavement underfoot.

The plot itself is also rather involved. I mean, there’s a lot going on okay? There’s the family feud and the mystery surrounding the whole curse. The characters learn the price of practicing Hoodoo, a dangerous bargain is struck – and that’s all before we even find ourselves trapped in the curse. Once we are the plot only thickens. New characters are introduced and familiar characters turn up in unexpected places as Briar works to break the curse, free the princess Aurora and liberate the townsfolk. Like I said – it’s involved.

But that’s what makes Briar Rose so much fun. It’s a sweeping adventure of epic proportions.

My one complaint is the fact that I found the characters to be pretty one dimensional. And while it didn’t stop me from fully enjoying Jana’s gritty, complex world, I just feel that Briar Rose could have been a real contender in mainstream fantasy if the characters, and the dialogue, took itself a little more seriously.

And I couldn’t help but feel that the romance lacked the proper amount of tension and conflict. All I’m going to say is that the chips fell into place a little too easily for my liking. But, what are you gonna do? I was still here for it.

Also, a quick shout out to Ruric, the rugged, heroic “stable hand” who unapologetically stole my heart. Honestly, I could have read an entire book about Ruric. Someone make this happen.

Anyway, even if the characters felt some-what shallow, there’s just something about Briar Rose that keeps you completely invested. Like good trashy TV, Briar Rose has just the right amount of action and intrigue to keep those pages turning. It’s dark, it’s sexy and I could just live in the pages of this fantasy adventure forever. My number one go-to guilty pleasure, Briar Rose might have some mixed reviews but it will always hold a special place in my soul – the perfect book to binge during self isolation.
589 reviews1,031 followers
October 30, 2013
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

Mini Review:

Thank you Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me this copy. No compensation was given or taken to alter this review.

After all the praises I heard from The Demon Trappers, I was truly convinced that Briar Rose would be an outstanding read. However, that was not the case.

Briar Rose has been obsessed with fairy tales from a young age--however she does not live in one. With her parents following her every move, and not letting her go anywhere near the boy she once played with all the time. But it's worse as her ex-boyfriend has been spreading fake rumours around and nearly everyone believes them. Then on the night before her sixteenth birthday, Briar learns why her parents have been so over-protective. A curse has been put on her and she is to die on her sixteenth birthday. Yet, the next day Briar wakes up, only not in bed. She wakes up in a fairy-tale like setting. More specifically, on like Sleeping Beauty's.

I liked the idea of what Jana Oliver was trying to spread. Reality over imagination, even if reality seems harsh at times. We have the main character, Briar trying to accept that imagination/the fake world is not real and will never be as great as reality in the long run. However what killed my enjoyment was the characters. The entire cast was bland and they all seemed far too similar or non-outstanding from one and another. It doesn't really help in this case that it's written in third person as it just weakened my connection with Briar. Briar was actually bearable, I liked her strong headed-ness to save someone she had merely met but that just opened a logic hole of; why the hell would you want to save someone you barely know? Especially when you have an opening to get out of the curse and to the real world. I get that the author is attempting to promote a selfless character yet other plot holes (that I shall not divulge) are not really convincing either.

Not really convincing story or likeable characters is an immediate no-no for me. I guess I went in with high expectations yet I still cannot shake the thought that I expected more from such a highly-praised author.
Profile Image for Kira Simion.
819 reviews126 followers
August 18, 2016
(Edit: 8-18-16)


•The story idea retelling was good, in my opinion at least. I liked how different this was. There was a steampunk theme to this but, there was also another style that I can't quite put my finger on. There was magic, romance, running, and fighting. I couldn't really see any morals in here but, it was an interesting ride. I enjoyed this author's imagination.

•The characters were okay however, if I had to say, I liked the story's world more. I did like how I could tell each character a little apart so I didn't get confused when it switched POVs.

•I liked the page amount since there didn't seem to be too much of an overload of detail and everything did play out.


•The retelling was a lot more interesting than I had first thought. The story is said to be "dark and sexy," as stated in the blurb but, it was more dark than sexy by far. That doesn't mean it was bad but, don't go into this thinking it has too much romance.

•The characters were okay, as stated previously but, the main character, Briar, said "omigosh" too many times and I almost cringed.

Profile Image for Kirsti.
2,456 reviews82 followers
January 13, 2014
Wow, there goes my fantastic run for books at the start of 2014. I was struggling from the beginning, because I felt that the characters were entirely detached from the situation, at least emotionally. Oh, there's a random curse floating about, determined to fell Briar? Why is it all the characters ask if it's real, and when another character confirms it, suddenly it's a know thing? Just because someone tells you something crazy you generally don't instantly believe them. The writing annoyed me from the start. It seems so stilted and childish. Here's an example; "It's not like that," Briar replied. Though it really was. Why is that full stop there? Why?

I really tried with this. I was 100 pages from the end when I realized I genuinely did not care how it ended. Not a single character interested me, not a single storyline was worth following. All the characters reacted predictably to every situation and I just couldn't bring myself to care. Do not recommend, ignore the gorgeous cover and run for the hills. Oh and in defense of my DNF, there are 470 pages in this book, I gave it a fair go!
Profile Image for Laura.
151 reviews61 followers
Want to read
August 2, 2013
There better be dragons in this book.

Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,337 reviews298 followers
January 3, 2021
This took a little while to really get into but it eventually picks up, it is a cheesy Sleeping Beauty retelling but I loved it.
July 11, 2022
Ok, still processing what happened. Wow.
This was a great read. Thanks for recommendation Tasneem!
I recommend to YA fantasy lovers that love to read books based on fairytales.
Profile Image for Chiara.
870 reviews220 followers
December 20, 2015
I requested a review copy of Briar Rose because it sounded really awesome. I love fairytale retellings, and Briar Rose had all the makings of one that I could really fall in love with. Unfortunately, I didn’t fall in love with it.

I’m not really sure what it is about Briar Rose that didn’t reach out to me. But I just felt very detached from the book overall.

Since Briar Rose was written from the third perspective, which jumped from character to character without any warning, I felt it was difficult to really become attached to any one character, let alone the cast that was within the novel. Not one character had me cheering them on, or caring whether or not they returned to their small town lives and lived happily ever after.

Briar herself, our main character, was flighty, insecure, and naïve in all sense of the three words. She jumped from boy to boy in a matter of minutes, and I just felt that her interactions were overall very insincere. Especially when she decides that she is in love with the boy she ends up with. I just kept thinking to myself: you expressed your deep seeded hatred for him a few chapters ago, were flirting with another guy a few chapters before that, and kissing yet another guy a few chapters before that. And now you’re in love with this one? I’m sorry if I do not have the will to believe in your love.

And the same goes for her love interest. Well, the final one. Joshua. He was also proclaiming hatred and then was willing to jump into Briar’s curse immediately after hearing of it. And then they return and he’s proclaiming his hatred for her again, and then later on - his love. Again. Their ‘love of a lifetime’ was very topsy turvy, and just not very believable at all, unfortunately.

Some of the language used in this book was really out of context. For instance, Briar is having a conversation about missing home, and she uses the word ‘peeps'. I nearly fell off my seat when I read that. I mean, sure Oliver was trying to keep the language used by teens in the modern age, but I think when you’re in fear of dying and missing your family who you may or may not ever return to … peeps is an inappropriate word. There were other words, like ‘fave’. Oh, please. No. every time I came across any of these words, I wish someone had cut them out before publishing. They ruined the fairytale-esque picture that Oliver was trying to create, and it felt very put-on and fake.

The secondary characters were not particularly fleshed out, and yet there was a lot of room for it in a near 500 page novel. I think we could have had more insight into the kind of person Ruric was, as well as Reena, and Aurora. I felt as if we just scratched the surface with all three of these characters, when I think they would have been really interesting to read about.

The one aspect that I really did like about this novel was the magic. I felt that the druzak, the fata, and the weird incorporation of metal into the original story of Sleeping Beauty were unique and interesting. I think there could have been more background information on these aspects, and more insight into their purpose in relation to the curse and the story. I, for one, would have enjoyed reading that.

As for the alignment with the base fairytale, Sleeping Beauty, I didn’t really feel it. I thought the inclusion of both Aurora and Briar Rose was more than a little confusing. I was left wondering whether or not Briar was supposed to be the princess, or whether it was Aurora. But I suppose this made Briar Rose very different to its predecessor.

Overall, I think that Briar Rose had potential, but just fell flat for me, personally, as a reader.

© 2014, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity . All rights reserved.
Profile Image for Booknut 101.
849 reviews921 followers
October 4, 2014
A riveting re-telling of Sleeping Beauty, Jana Oliver's Briar Rose gives the classic fairytale a modern twist like never before.

Fairytale re-tellings are tricky things. Mainly because, honestly, everyone knows these fairytales. We've been read them as children, in order to ignite our little imaginations or to send us off to sleep with minimal bribing involved.

And although there are hundreds of fairytales, from different cultures and different times, there are a set of classics. Sleeping Beauty, being one of them.

The thing with classics, though, that makes re-tellings difficult is that the re-telling should bring to mind the fairytale it has been inspired by without copying it.

Often, this doesn't happen. What does happen is that we see the main elements of the fairytale re-ordered and served back to us with a different topping to 'spice things up.'

Briar Rose, however, ticks all the boxes.

This book manages to include several Sleeping Beauty elements, whilst flawlessly combining a bunch of the author's own concepts to create an engaging tale.

Parts of it reminded me of Jodi Picoult's Between The Lines. A modern day protagonist, who longs for romance and reads far too many fairytales, is sucked into a fairytale and discovers it all isn't sunshine, rainbows and My Little Ponies.

I will admit...it wasn't the basic structure of the story that won me over. It was pretty obvious where the story was headed, who would end up with who, etc.

But what made the story intriguing was:
- Its characters
- Its concepts
- Its humor

Jana Oliver has a knack for creating beautifully flawed characters. None of them is perfect - from our female protagonist with her slightly-but-not-really adorable vain streak and horrible taste in guys, to a line of guys who are either too charming, too hot-and-cold, or too self-absorbed.

Each character is three-dimensional. All have flaws, and most have a few redeeming qualities thrown in so that you don't have to hate every character you meet!

The concepts were amazing. The whole metal thing, with the creatures and the magic...I was hooked. Some voodoo magic + creatures with magic dust + some A.G. Howard's Splintered-like horror (featuring a bunch of metal caterpillar creatures in a pit that would have perfectly suited a gothic, darker Wonderland) = a whole lot of awesome.

And the humour. Oh the humour!

I like how it was a refreshing mix of everyday comedy and YA humor. The jokes aren't funny outright, but are delivered with a subtle hand that makes them all the more humorous.

So if you love fairytales & you're looking for a badass re-telling, Briar Rose is for you!
Profile Image for Liz.
546 reviews
November 1, 2013
I was a big fan of Jana Oliver's Demon Trappers series, so was really looking forward to Briar Rose, especially since I love fairy tale retellings. However, Briar Rose just really was not for me. The writing style felt really different and as much as I tried to like it, I just didn't enjoy it.

First of all, the characters. I didn't like any of them. I mean, I liked one character for a certain period of time, but then he seemed to have a personality switch, so that went out of the window. Some characters I didn't actively dislike, but I didn't like them either and it was just...eh. Briar was immature and underdeveloped. I felt like we knew barely anything about her. Josh, who was one of the love interests, was so whiny and sappy and always felt so sorry for himself for things he could easily fix ("my dad wants me to do this, but I want to do something else - oh no, what an unsolvable problem I have! I couldn't possibly make my own decisions in my own life, what a ridiculous suggestion! I will just wallow in my own self-inflicted misery and lament my life, because clearly I have so many problems and deserve to be pitied"), and even though we were supposed to like him and root for him to end up with Briar, I have to say, I preferred Ruric (the guy we weren't really meant to root for, or so I assume). At the beginning, I liked Ruric infinitely better; he was funny and charming and caring and a little mischievous, and he really looked out for Briar. I really liked their banter at the start of their relationship! But then Ruric randomly decided he actually liked Aurora, for no reason (though it was obvious that he would never actually end up with Briar) - he'd barely spoken to her and she treated him like crap! - and then it got all cheesy and he became as sappy as Josh and I stopped liking him from there on. It was just weird the way all the characters acted, and I found myself sighing at them more often than not. Pat was one of my least favourites. I'm sorry, but I refuse to believe that such an utter prick could suddenly turn around and become a really nice guy because of the influence of one person over an extremely short period of time. Too many personality switches in this book!

Plot-wise, I was so confused. First, everyone just accepted magic was real (it wasn't set in a magical land or anything - so much so that the beginning felt like a contemp book) and accepted this weird curse really easily, didn't try to find any explanation for it, and it seemed very odd. Then when the curse was activated, we kept getting told that Briar "fought the curse" and that's how she survived...how? HOW did she fight the curse? I didn't get it all, they just SAID that's what she did without explaining what "fighting the curse" entailed. And then when the curse's origin was finally explained, it was so anticlimactic and I still had a lot of questions about it that weren't answered . Secondly, the beginning was such a typical teen drama scenario that I almost gave up. When the curse first activated, I thought maybe things wouldn't be so bad, because I liked Briar's meeting with Ruric - but it went even more downhill after that. And the curse world was left a mystery - was it real? Was it a dream? Would Briar ever be able to get back? The ending was also really meh - after years and years of hating each other, Briar and Josh's family just seemed okay with them getting together (the relationship was so bland - apparently Josh had "always" loved Briar, and Briar seemed to switch to liking Josh randomly so yeah, insta-lovey and boring), Pat actually ended up with someone instead of falling down a well, like I wanted him to, and honestly, by that point I just wanted the book to end.

Overall, I really didn't enjoy Briar Rose, and while it wasn't the worst book I've ever read, it wasn't the book I was hoping for. I feel like there was so much potential for a dark and exciting retelling of Sleeping Beauty, but instead we ended up with some cliché, confusing, teen melodrama read.
Profile Image for Savannah (Books With Bite).
1,399 reviews185 followers
May 5, 2014
I love, love, love this author! I think she did a fantastic job in bringing a whole new twist to a classic tale.

Plot: This is about a girl who is cursed to sleep when a spell goes horribly wrong. Briar must fight this spell not only on her body but in her mind. I think that the way this story moved from the vagueness to knowing what is happening really help me enjoy the story more. The story is introduced with not much to go on but it leads a trail of crumbs to follow and you can’t help but eat every single one.

Friendship/Love: Because of this curse it has cause a feud between two families. In turn, both kids are suffering at the hands of the parents. I felt like this part of the story really gives the reader that rush. Two kids who grew up so closely to only be torn apart without any knowledge of what really happened. The parents kept the kids in the dark and made their lives…well miserable. When they finally came to know, they fought for each other. And I adore it. I loved them getting to know each other and forgetting everything else around them. It’s like, they didn’t care what their parents thought. They were saving each other no matter what.

Ending: Despite them fighting the curse, both Briar and her boyfriend must fight others as well…like their parents and themselves. They have been told not to talk to each other, not to do this or that, that they are constantly fighting a battle for their hearts and trust. In the end, despite all the went down, both set aside everything for love…and WON!

I adore this book. It simple swept me off my feet!! I just knew the minute I read the first chapter that I stepped into something different. Briar Rose carries a unique tale that plays out deep in the mind. One that is satisfying and awesome. Briar Rose rocks!
Profile Image for Vivienne.
Author 2 books90 followers
August 6, 2016
I enjoyed this re-telling of Sleeping Beauty very much, loving the Southern Gothic elements, dreams and use of hoodoo. However, if my parents had named me Briar and my surname was Rose then I'd be a little worried even before there were murmurings of curses and everyone being skittish about my forthcoming birthday. So yes, for a while Briar seems oblivious to the way in which her life is mirroring one of her favourite fairy tales.

The small town Southern USA setting with a protagonist who ached to get away to a wider world along with a local Civil War re-enactment brought to mind Beautiful Creatures, which was a book fail for me. I certainly enjoyed this novel much more for a number of reasons including the setting and an interesting set of characters both in the waking and dream worlds. The magical system used in the narrative drew upon the folk magical traditions associated with that part of the USA and based on my limited knowledge of hoodoo was depicted well.

Jana Oliver had a light touch with the humour and popular culture references sprinkled about. The romantic elements were not overly cloying, which is always a strong point for me. That Briar's fantastic adventures took place in a dreamscape was another plus as the landscape of dreams and lucid dreaming is an long time interest. There was plenty of action and a nail-biting climax. I also felt it was nice to have a story that was self-contained in a single book.

I initially borrowed the novel from the library but bought myself a Kindle edition for my own.
Profile Image for Holly Sparks.
Author 3 books150 followers
March 2, 2016
My review on Briar Rose is a little up and down because I didn't actually finish it. I got this book for Christmas and I just couldn't read past the halfway point. I think if you're not enjoying a book by this point you should move on...a bit like relationships in that manner (but that's a different matter!) but, I just couldn't form a connection to Briar at all! I don't want to sound mean but she is definitely too interested in boys and I feel a little sorry for Joshua, him I found more of a connection with as Briar does get a little whiny!

She doesn't like anyone getting close to any guy she likes, shes a bit like...

"Oh nuh uh! Don't go near him!"

Personally I can understand that but it just comes across a little too self involved but that's just me! The storyline is actually quite good and I would recommend this book to all sleeping beauty fans BUT I only gave it three stars as I couldn't finish it unfortunately.

I did however like Briar's best friend and I didn't mind her parents either. Wow, its very unlike me to write a bad review but sorry, this book just wasn't my cup of tea!

Holly x
Profile Image for Tasneem.
23 reviews28 followers
January 1, 2017
OMG! This book is a twisted version of sleeping beauty. I absolutely loved it. You think you know where the books going, then it twists and you would never expect it. Its a little boring in some parts but is totally worth reading. READ IT AND ENJOY IT!!!! :)
Profile Image for Sarah.
337 reviews80 followers
October 2, 2013
Full review also posted here on TotalTeenFiction.

Disclosure: I won a copy of this book from the publisher via Goodreads first reads.

When I saw I'd won a copy of Briar Rose I was really excited. I love the idea of fairy tale retellings and I was won over by that gorgeous cover. Briar Rose is a twist on sleeping beauty, and tells the story of Briar who is cursed to die on her sixteenth birthday. When she falls into a deep sleep she ends up in a different world, whilst her friends on the outside must help save her.

I struggled from the beginning of this book. I found the writing a bit hard to get into. It was kind of over-descriptive and didn't flow too well for me. There was lots of exposition about unimportant stuff like the history of the town and Briar's classmates, but when it came to the world building and the establishing of the plot stuff was just thrown in. Like for example the curse Briar discovers is placed on her. She finds out about it and within a few short hours has accepted it completely. As a reader, I was still struggling to get my head around the ridiculousness of the situation. It just felt like Briar should have questioned things a bit more. I ploughed on through the first one hundred pages and that was when I had to stop and put it down for a while. It wasn't the writing that had put me off, but I just wasn't connecting with the book and couldn't lose myself in the story.

There were a few problems in those first hundred pages. Firstly, I found the number of male love interest characters off-putting. We're introduced to Pat, who's the good looking one Briar has a crush on, as well as Joshua who is the nice kind boy but who Briar is forbidden from seeing because their parents don't get on. Then Briar's ex-boyfriend Mike thrown into the mix and I had some serious problems with scenes surrounding him. Briar spots him at a party where the following is written:

"The laugh belonged to her ex-boyfriend and it took her only a few seconds to find him near the bonfire, his arm round a tall red headed girl clad in a micro-bikini." - page 42

"Briar checked the girl out and found that she wasn't that special: her legs were short, her neck too long and her hair needed serious help." - page 42

"Mike had accused her of being a stupid kid, which in guy speak meant that she hadn't put out. From what she'd heard, his new girlfriend didn't have that problem." - page 43

These few quotes made me absolutely rage. Not only is briar being a complete b****, but it's the first time I've really understood the term "slut shaming". Why is this girl being judged because she dares to wear a bikini and have sex? Does that make her a horrible person?!

The guy drama doesn't end there. When Briar enters the fantasy world a bit later on we're introduced to Ruric, the male character who shows her around. I just didn't like any of the guys enough to become invested in what happened. Joshua seemed like the nicest but I just could not get my head around the whole forbidden friendship thing. It wasn't actually cleared up until very late on the book by which point I had given up caring.

I waited a few weeks before picking up the book and powering through so I could finish it. I think if I was the kind of person who could DNF books (did not finish) then I would have. My problem was that I just didn't enjoy it. The story didn't capture my attention at all and I found myself growing bored. I didn't really like the fantasy world the majority of the book takes place in. It's all set around one town which felt very restricted, and I didn't really get enough world building to be able to understand what was happening and why.

Back to the writing, and the book is written in third person, mostly from Briar's perspective. When she falls into the sleep we get to see chunks from Joshua's point of view. There are also a few chapters written from Ruric's perspective as well. Whilst the book was written in third person, you would get the occasional sentence in italics which was a first-person thought from a character as a sort of glimpse into their head and what they're thinking. I don't really think they added anything and by the end of the book they were starting to bug me a little bit.

I think the main disappointment for me was just that the book couldn't hold my attention. I would find myself skimming over paragraphs and by the end I just wasn't really fussed about what would happen. The only time I really felt anything was during that scene with Briar's ex-boyfriend and all that did was make me angry. I didn't care about the story or the characters beyond that.

It's possible that people with a more detailed knowledge of fairy tales might be able to pick up on more of the references than I did and be able to enjoy the fantasy elements. I've heard the author's other series is really good and so although I didn't enjoy Briar Rose, I'd still considering seeking out books in her Demon Trappers series. This book just wasn't for me in the end.

Find more books like this at TotalTeenFiction!
Profile Image for Emily Wrayburn.
Author 5 books40 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
October 3, 2019
DNF at page 47...

maybe I needed to read on a bit longer and get to the actual Sleeping Beauty bits, but I was just put off by careless throwing around of terms like OCD and crazy, the fact that the MC was different from other girls because all the other girls were just busty bitches...

At another time I might have persevered but I don't have the patience today.
Profile Image for Kristy (Book Nerd Reviews).
170 reviews689 followers
October 16, 2013
Briar Rose is a fresh retelling of Sleeping Beauty with a few twists along the way. This is not your standard fairytale filled with cliché evil queens, a lovely kingdom waiting and a prince on his white horse coming to save the damsel in distress. It is imaginative, different and dark. There was also a steampunk edge to this novel that I wasn’t expecting.

On the night before her 16th birthday, Briar finds out that she is cursed, and that at midnight she will die. Believing she cannot fight the curse and is going to die, Briar prepares for her fate and says her final goodbyes to her parents and her best friend. Although, instead of dying, Briar wakes up in a dream of her own making – but will she be able to get out of her own nightmare?

Briar enters a strange fairytale, with monsters that she could never have imagined; and when these monsters try to attack her, she is saved by Ruric. Ruric is handsome, helpful and chivalrous – could he be the charming prince she is searching for? Ruric assists Briar on her journey, and tries to help Briar survive – even though he does not understand what she needs saving from. Ruric is the prince straight out of Briar’s dreams, but it is clear that he is not only helping Briar hide her secrets, but he is hiding many of his own.

Using Hoodoo (not Voodoo), Briar’s best friend Reena and childhood friend Joshua, find a way to get into Briar’s dream so they can help her escape. However upon arriving into the dream, they find they have accidentally transported Pat (the local jerk) with them. Their arrival into this world is rather enjoyable, and the only problem I had with it was how quickly the adapted to the “lingo” of their environment – I just don’t find it convincing that a couple of teenagers who just found themselves into a whole new world automatically slipping into language such as “swine” and “tavern wench”. I did however find the relationship between Reena and Pat to be extremely entertaining, as Reena was not afraid to tell Pat exactly what she thought of him, and he seemed to respect that.

Along with Ruric, Briar has another man who is trying to save her – her old childhood friend Joshua. Although Briar and Joshua have not been allowed to be friends since a near-drowning incident when they were children, it is clear that Joshua has always had feelings for Briar. I must admit that I didn’t really feel it from these two characters. Joshua proved that he had real feelings, he was caring, loyal (at times jealous) and even though guilt may have been a part of it, he was also fiercely protective of Briar. But most of the time, I didn’t feel it from Briar.

Briar seemed somewhat flippant with her feelings for both of these charming guys. I actually think I got a little whip-lash from her constantly changing thoughts and feelings. I must admit, that I did not find Briar to be an extremely enjoyable character, and I felt that she was extremely self-involved and impulsive. Her feelings for both Joshua and Ruric seemed to flick around so quickly, and without a lot of justification, as she was so hooked up on finding her “prince” that her vision of her fantasy was easily projected onto anyone who happened to vaguely fit the bill at the time. But, all was not lost, she did redeem herself in the end by showing that she does not in fact need a prince – that she can fight for herself; and maybe she can even save herself, and her prince, at the same time.

The twists and turns in this story, both when awake and asleep, kept the storyline interesting. This is a multi-part story of Aurora, Briar, Ruric, Joshua, Reena and Pat, who may be living in a dream, but it is no fairytale. In this world of enchantment, magic, metal and curses – who will be able to wake up and face their worst nightmare?


“Walt Disney would not have approved”

“Just live your own story, not someone else’s. I made that mistake. I won’t ever do it again”

“You are most peculiar, Briar Rose”

“So, what else can go wrong?”

“Welcome to Briar’s nightmare, dude”

Rating: 3.5
Profile Image for Sandra "Jeanz".
1,164 reviews162 followers
September 9, 2013
I was lucky enough to receive a paperback finished copy of this book from Jana and her publishers Macmillan whom I love to bits as they are so great to work with as a blogger! The cover has a beautiful sleeping girl on the cover which is Briar Rose as she is the "sleeping beauty" in this tale. The font and its colour for the title are really bright and stand out as they are in a loud rosey pink colour. The byline above the title says "Once upon a dream". . . and that's what Briar Rose suffers at the beginning of the book from really realistic dreams and/or nightmares.
Would I pick this book up from a store shelf? Yes I would feel drawn to this cover and then once I saw the lovely Jana Oliver's name I would have to purchase it to read and learn more!
So the book is about two families and their feud. There's the Rose family who have a daughter Rose and the Quinns who have a son, Joshua the same age as Briar. Everything used to be okay and then a curse was put on the Quinns. The curse warped and attached itself to Joshua whilst his mum was pregnant. Then there was an incident when the children (Joshua & Briar) were playing and Joshua fell in the water. Briar instinctively jumped in after him and refused to let go of his hand. Joshua dies in the water, though was revived once taken out of the water, however the curse jumped from Joshua to Briar. The curse is that Briar will die on her sixteenth birthday. Briar and Joshua were kept apart ever since the incident of Joshua drowning as his mum was worried that Briar would some how pass the curse back to him. Joshua has always felt a connection to Briar and as they get older he develops to loving her. No one has told Briar about the curse and her mum and father don't tell her until the eve of her birthday. Her friend Reena and her great grandmother Lily practice Hoodoo and they try to change the curse. They manage to change it slightly but Briar is locked in a dream, that rapidly turns into more of a nightmare.
Reena and Joshua team up and manage to get into the dream to find Briar and help her sort out the curse. the also accidentally take the school jerk Pattison Daniel along with them. Will the three friends even find Briar in the dream and can they fight the curse and win?
I love the main characters, I like the fact that Briar will in my opinion appeal to all females. Briar is girly in that she loves fairy tales and wishes to meet her own Prince. then she's also kind of a tomboy when she takes part in the civil war re-enactment as her ancestor Elmer Rose.
To me this book had elements of other tales in it. to me of course it was mainly Sleeping Beauty with a little Wizard Of Oz - Return To Oz and a smidgen of Alice In Wonderland too.
It has metallic references within the book that give it a steampunk edge. It has love story happy elements yet also has darkness and twists in it too.
It is really well written, descriptive to the point you have the images in your head to "see". There's the whole Good Vs Evil going on throughout the book too. Will there be a happy ending? Who will find their Prince? Will they even want a Prince?
It's so much more than a re-telling of a fairy tale.
So did I enjoy the book? I truly loved reading this book. Would I recommend the book? Definitely, yes. Would I read another book about Briar Rose and her family? With how the book ends I feel this is probably a standalone boo. Having said that if ever there was a book two it would be going straight on my to read list! Would I read other books by Jana Oliver? I already have. I read her Demon Trappers Series and also loved that. Jana Oliver really writes characters for you to fall in love with and care about. I will also be on the lookout for more books by her too.
And I suppose I should ask myself the extra question I did as I going to read the book . . Did this book pale by comparison to the Demon Trappers? No,I loved it just as much, In one word I'd say Brilliant!
1,148 reviews25 followers
September 15, 2013

A magical fairytale re-imagined for modern times, with a deliciously dark twist!

I was so excited upon encountering this new story by highly acclaimed author of the ‘Demon Trappers’ series, Jana Oliver, as I simply love this YA author. The classic enchanting fairytale Sleeping Beauty is cleverly reformed with inspired vision and imagination, into something contemporary and fresh. This uniquely told tale transports you into a whimsical world of metal monsters, tyrant leaders and fighting heroes. Brought to mind was the hit television drama series “Once Upon A Time” (abc productions), which contained similarities as to a modern retelling of fairytales. The rose pink cover of this Once Upon A Dream tale is beautifully eye-catching, and I think that many fans of this genre will be eager to pluck this new novel from the shelf.

From the back cover:
For Briar Rose, life is anything but a fairy tale. She’s stuck in a small town in deepest Georgia with parents who won’t let her out of their sight, a bunch of small-minded, gossiping neighbors and an evil ex who’s spreading nasty rumors about what she may or may not have done in the back of his car. She’s tired of it all, so when, on her sixteenth birthday, her parents tell her that she is cursed and will go to sleep when the clock strikes midnight, she’s actually kind of glad to leave it all behind. She says her goodbyes, lies down, and closes her eyes …And then she wakes up. Cold, alone and in the middle of the darkest, most twisted fairy tale she could ever have dreamed of. Now Briar must fight her way out of the story that has been created for her, but she can’t do it alone. She never believed in handsome princes, but now she’s met one her only chance is to put her life in his hands, or there will be no happy ever after and no waking up.
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that Dragons exist, but because they tell us that Dragons can be beaten”
- Quote, G K Chesterton

Some of my favourite quotes in the book ~

“…Over the years this curse will remain vigilant, growing in strength, changing course as needed. Then, when the time is right, it will fulfil its calling. State its near-human desire for strength.”

“It was her father’s fault: when Briar was four, he’d read her “Little Red Riding Hood” at bedtime. She’d come away from that experience with a true love of fairytales and a morbid fear of Wolves. From there she’d gone through the Disney phase where all fairytales ended happily ever after. Now she was solidly in the Brothers Grimm camp, where happy endings usually required a few corpses to even things out.”

This supremely magical, dreamlike story is simply stunning and a shining example of how old fairytales can be reworked for a modern readership. Containing plenty of mysterious family feuds, devious intent and plots thickening this is a tale to truly loose yourself within! No fairytale would be complete without a handsome Prince and of course an evil curse…Reading this book felt like I had just plunged into Alice in Wonderland and I was trying to find my way out of a maze, where at every turn I would face something peculiar or unexpected. If you have a vivid imagination then ‘Briar Rose’ is defiantly a creative masterwork of sheer ingenuity and refreshing originality. I cannot praise this story enough and so any rating less than a five would not do this book justice ~ my Young Adult TOP pick of the year!!

5 Stars *****
Profile Image for Lyndsey O'Halloran.
432 reviews60 followers
September 8, 2013
Briar lives in a really small town, playing out enactments of old war scenes. Apart from that, nothing really ever happens, unless you count your best friend nearly drowning years ago. Early on, it becomes clear that Briar and Josh used to be best friends until their families forbade them from seeing each other. Since that day, they have stayed away from each other, even if they didn’t want to. I loved being introduced to Briar’s life and her friends, who were pretty fabulous. However, it was also apparent that Briar didn’t really live in the real world and instead, her head was filled with fairy tales and things that would never happen.

On her sixteenth birthday, Briar’s mother has a massive panic about her being out past midnight and this is when we learn of the curse put on Briar. While I won’t go into details of the curse so I don’t give anything away, it was an interesting twist and an inventive way of getting Briar into the fairy tale world. However, the synopsis on the back of the book is extremely misleading and Briar is not ‘doomed to fall asleep for one hundred years on her sixteenth birthday.’ This is not the case at all and I wish the synopsis just stated that she had a curse put on her.

Once the book moved into Briar’s curse and the dream world she was put in, I really began to dislike the story. There is a weird mix of old and new in Briar’s fairy tale world but it was a mix I was very unsure about. Briar wakes up in the woods, close to a village that you would expect to be from a good few hundred years ago. But, there are also elements of the new in the village as there are creations made from metal, things being turned into metal etc. I just didn’t believe the two different things fit together very well as they were so different. Because of this, I couldn’t really connect with the world that Jana Oliver created.

There are some good aspects to Briar Rose though. In her new surroundings, Briar meets Ruric who was a wonderful character. He doesn’t understand Briar, knows that she’s different and still decides to help her. He doesn’t ask too many questions and instead is just a really nice guy trying to do the right thing. He’s there for Briar in her time of need and was a good supporting character. While a good character for the most part, even he had problems though. After things about him had been revealed, I began to think previous comments just did not fit. He was a bit of a walking contradiction.

One thing that I did really like about Briar Rose was the Sleeping Beauty plot in the dream world. Oliver’s twist on the classic fairy take was new, different and quite exciting. Nothing is quite as it seemed with this Sleeping Beauty so I was never sure what to expect. There are plenty of twists and turns in regards to this part of the plot, some of which stood alone and some that were intertwined with Briar’s story.

Secondary characters were very hit and miss for me as well. While I loved Reena and Pat, I hated Joshua. As a love interest, he was just so bland and boring. I couldn’t see the attraction and I just didn’t see anything really special in him like I did with Beck in the Demon Trappers series. Oliver does manage to add in her great humour between characters such as Reena and Pat which was most definitely needed in such an ‘okay’ story. The humour made things much better and stopped the book from being extremely depressing.

I really hate to say that I disliked this book because I was expecting such good things from it.
Profile Image for Rachel (The Rest Is Still Unwritten).
1,601 reviews202 followers
September 3, 2013
Firstly, thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me a copy of this to read and review!

Find my complete review on my blog here: http://rachybee-the-rest-is-still-unw...

Briar Rose is a uniquely told fairytale retelling of Sleeping Beauty by Jana Oliver that transports you into a whimsical world of metal monsters, tyrant leaders and fighting heroes!

In all honesty, I’m a big Jana Oliver fan. Her Demon Trappers series sits as one of my favourites so it stands to reason that I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately Briar Rose is a bit of a mixed bucket for me. It didn’t quite meet my expectations and while I did enjoy it for the most part, unfortunately it wasn’t the intensely thrilling read I’ve come to expect from Oliver.

Briar Rose is a fairytale retelling through and through. It reads like a retelling and tells like a retelling, sweeping the reader into the mind of our “sleeping beauty” like never before. I have to point out, I didn’t dislike this book. As far as fairytale retelling’s go (which, I love by the way) it was decent; well written and well told, with a different take on the traditional tale and story I’ve previously seen. It was just missing that something; that wow factor that takes the book out of the okay-read sector and into the OMG pile. In all honesty Briar Rose is worth reading—if you’re a fairytale fan or a Jana Oliver fan that it’s definitely for you….if not…well, it may still be.

I liked the characters in this book, even if I was never overly blown away with them. Briar was alright as a heroine, but in saying that I never felt as though I was completely drawn into her plight in this far away land inside her mind. I wanted to be, but I just wasn’t.

Unfortunately for as likable as Joshua was, I found him bland for the most part. Together he and Briar were sweet, but came on waaay to fast, too soon for my liking. Their relationship just wasn't completely believable for me. I’m sorry, as much as I love Jana Oliver, and I do, I really do, I just couldn’t buy this; not a hundred percent.

To me, the best aspect of the characters was the dynamic they shared with each other. As individuals they weren’t overly much, but throw them together, especially Reena and Pat, and they were hilarious to behold.

Featuring a different take on Sleeping Beauty and with plenty of mysterious family feuds, hoodoo magic and devious intensions, Briar Rose is worth reading if you’re looking for an easy fairytale story but don’t want too much depth!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Samantha (A Dream of Books).
1,145 reviews96 followers
September 15, 2013
'Briar Rose' is a southern retelling of the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty. It's about a young girl who on her sixteenth birthday is doomed by a curse which threatens to rob her of everything she holds dear unless she can find a way to break it.

I thought I was going to love this book. I'm a massive fan of Jana Oliver's previous series The Demon Trapper's Daughter and I couldn't wait to read this as soon as I first heard about it. The plot sounded brilliant, I love fairy tale retellings and I fell in awe of the book cover but I'm disappointed to say that the actual story I really struggled with. I normally finish books quite quickly but this one took me over a week to read, a sign that I just wasn't hooked by the actual telling of the tale.

It's quite an unconventional retelling and actually bared very little resemblance to the traditional version of Sleeping Beauty. The blurb of the book therefore seemed to be slightly misleading. I wouldn't necessarily have minded this if the story had been amazing but for the most part I often found it strange and confusing, particularly when Briar enters the dream world. Nothing here is familiar and everything seems foreign and dangerous.

I thought that the romance in the story would perhaps have redeemed things for me but unfortunately I wasn't won over either by the bond between Briar and her childhood friend Joshua. As individual characters they were okay but together I didn't feel the spark between them. I actually preferred the scenes between Briar's best friend Reena who tries to help her and a local boy called Pat who also finds himself pulled into the dream world.

I'm sad to say that this book just wasn't for me although I kept on hoping until the very end that something would happen to turn it around for me. Regardless of this, I'm still a huge fan of Oliver's work and I will certainly be reading more by her in the future.
Profile Image for Emma .
2,506 reviews353 followers
September 18, 2013
Fans of the TV series ‘Once Upon a Time’ are going to love Briar Rose. A deep, dark ‘fractured fairytale’ reminiscent of the original Grimm tales.

After the initial struggle with the third person narrative (we all know by now that I am a 1st person girl) I became hooked on the story. The characters are engaging, the focalization switching between the characters allowing insight into their actions as well a providing background detail to add clarity to the plot. While 3rd person narrative is generally a tool to control a multi-layered plot driven story, I didn’t think that it was warranted in this case as the plot was easy to follow. The way in which the characters crossed over may have been a little harder to control in the 1st person and this is where the 3rd person narrative was a benefit.

I really liked the connection between the characters, the loyalty, friendship and love shone through the narrative. I have seen some reviews refer to Josh as bland; I disagree I thought he was a deeply emotional character; realising the connection he shared with Briar from a young age, I felt like he was a steadfast presence awaiting the right moment to step in and sweep Briar off her feet *swoon*. Incidents and childhood memories from both Briar and Josh’s perspective re-enforced the soul-mate ideal.

The concept used as the basis of the curse took a little getting used to, I can’t go into detail for risk of giving spoilers but I will say the way it was laid out made me wonder how it couldn’t be broken earlier. The trials and tribulations the characters undertook strengthened the bonds of their friendship as well as allowing them personal growth. For me I think this was the true purpose of the curse and the characters came out stronger because of it.

The origins of the curse, when revealed felt a little anti-climatic although the plot twist did tie together all aspects of the story. I would love to see how the characters develop further in the future.
Profile Image for Krista.
610 reviews6 followers
February 4, 2015
OMG finally done. I thought this book would never finished. I thought I would really like this book because fairy tales and princesses and princes and happy endings but nope. omg no.
I actually didn't like Briar whatsoever. Like honestly, she thinks everything is about her, hates every single girl who looks at any guy she likes, was all like "ohh noes i'm gonna die?? okayyy let me get comfy in bed" da fuck woman? All her thoughts like magically came true and like seriously this book is mADE OF CONVENIENT THINGS. Like everything just worked out for them, her friends just magically get to the same spot and time as her, Briar meets this handsome dude who just randomly says he will help and randomly is also a prince. There was only few things I liked about this book, hence the 2 star rating. I liked the twist on sleeping beauty with the regent. I liked Princess Aurora actually and the relationship between Ruric and Aurora, even though there was like nothing, and the relationship between Reena and Pat. That's basically it, rest of the book I disliked and it was wayyyyy too lonnggggg with like random plot things everywhere like honestly. Take out like half of the book and then it might be okay. But now it's done, finally. I barely wanted to read it once I got half way and took way longer than I wanted it too.
Profile Image for Misty.
300 reviews67 followers
January 2, 2015
Picking up Briar rose, I wasn't sure what to expect from this modern day retelling of Sleeping beauty, I questioned how the fairy tale would fit into our world, but I needn't have worried because Oliver did a great job of making it seem believable.
Only a small portion is set in the present in Georgia, while the rest is set in Briar's dream, when, instead of dying she awakens in a literal fairy tale and must find a way to fight her way out if she wants to live.
I really loved this mix of reality and fairy tale, it gave the story a ring of truth and gave it all a magical feeling, while also being a completely new take on a classic story.
This is my first book by Jana Oliver and I found her writing to be on point throughout, the world building was great and imaginative, while still leaving room for me to daydream about how it looked as well.
I liked the characters and the back story and was pleasantly surprised at some twists that I hadn't been expecting and at Oliver's own little add ons to the story.
So, if you like your fairy tales dark and scary then I would recommend picking up Briar rose right away, its a great book set in a richly imagined world with some wonderful characters.
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