Author: Melanie Cellier
Narrator: Esther Wane
Audiobook Length: 8 hours 22 minutes
They call her the Sleeping Princess, but Celeste is far from asleep…
Celeste has been cursed since her sixteenth birthday–just not in the way the rest of the kingdom thinks. All they see is her breath-taking beauty, marred by her foolishness. Only she knows that she retains her brilliant mind. And it’s a secret she must keep at all costs.
Over the years she’s grown accustomed to the necessary deception. After all, her life depends on it. And she’s even found a way to protect her kingdom, working from the shadows. But now a dangerous new threat has emerged, one that Celeste can’t defeat alone. She needs the help of a newly-arrived prince. One who’s altogether too handsome and too charming. Somehow she needs to keep her secret, save her kingdom and find a way to free herself from the curse. The last thing she has time to do is sleep.
In this reimagining of the classic fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty, it’s only the princess’ mind that is asleep. And sometimes appearances can be deceiving.
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The Princess Game is the fourth full-length novel in The Four Kingdoms series. While each is a standalone story with a new main character, the books should be read in order as there are some crossover characters, and the timeline is continuous. This novel is a reimaging of Sleeping Beauty. Since reimaginings can go in any direction, I was curious on how this story would relate to the original fairy tale. After her sister, Cordelia, found love in Northhelm, while attending the wedding of their brother, Rafe, in the previous installment, the reader travels to Lanover with Rafe, his bride, Marie, and her brother, William, where the story of Rafe and Cordelia’s sister, Celeste is told.
For this reimagining, Celeste is not cursed to sleep; instead, her mind is put to sleep where she appears foolish yet her internal mind is still intelligent. She is, however, able to showcase her true self when she is disguised as the kingdom’s spymaster, Aurora. This secret identity brought in some fun elements from The Scarlet Pimpernel, which was an interesting inclusion. Here, Celeste/Aurora, can help keep the kingdom safe from imminent rebellions. I liked this idea for how to integrate the two sides of Celeste, however, I wish more was done with her curse. When she is Aurora, it seemed too easy to escape the curse’s effects, so I wish there was more tension included.
William, as the love interest, initially falls for Celeste’s beauty, but comes to get to know her as both Celeste and Aurora. As he believes they are two separate individuals, this part needed a little more exploration. His flirtation is open with both and there is some conflict with this “love triangle,” so while the reader is fully aware of his situation, I would have liked more about his side of the growing romantic feelings. There was a lot that could have been done with this story as to which side William would have chosen if it came to a choice. As written, it is interesting to see his connection grow to each side of Celeste’s personality, but I still wanted a little more from his character.
Overall, this was a nice addition to the series. With all the characters coming together and even a connection to the companion series, Beyond the Four Kingdoms, I liked how each story weaved together. While William was just meh as an individual character, especially compared to others in the series, he was a nice match for Celeste. The two of them had a great connection and I enjoyed them spending time together. The plot itself is simplistic and, similar with the curse, did not go as far as it could, but it was still a nice easy read. It is perfect for readers who want a nice simple fairy tale romance, and I cannot wait to read more from this universe!