Briar Rose by Jane Yolen is a retelling of the story of Sleeping Beauty. It is a story of survival set in World War II poland. Becca has collected mementos from her jewish grandmothers death. There is very little known about her grandmother other than she came into the United States as a refugee. Her family even assumes that she came before World War II.
Becca receives a wooden chest as part of her inheritance. In it are some papers and a gold ring with a black stone. She goes to investigate her past. She finds that her grandmother came in with very little information other than that she came from Kulmhof.
Throughout the book at the beginning of each chapter there is a bit of the sleeping beauty tale. However, there are some slight changes. the wicked fairy wears black boots and two silver eagles on her hat, and the thorns around the castle are sharp as iron. It is an interesting effect.
Eventually, Becca makes it to Poland where she travels to different places and eventually meets up with a different kind of prince, a prince who escaped Sachhausen and joined the partisans. He tells a tale of how her grandmother was saved by him during World War II and eventually escaped using his identity papers to get to America.
This is a different kind of novel. It mixes history with a fairytale to speak about and uncover thoughts that are hard to express in any medium. The story is quite interesting. We keep this book in the young adult section in our library. There is some fairly dark material in this book which is tastefully written about. This book is a Mythopoeic award winner. It is the third book which I have read from the Mythopoeic award winners list. It is very high quality myth fantasy.
The end of the book includes a list of recommended for lovers of high quality fairytales.