The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by A.N. Roquelaure (aka Anne Rice)
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I've heard lots about this trilogy, good and bad. It's been touted as great BDSM story, an erotic fairytale and a great read. There were voices that said it's vile and horrible. There seemed to be no middle ground
Curious, I requested the books on Netgalley when Penguin made them available as a re-release.
Curiosity killed the cat. I should have remembered that old adage.
Despite my usually high tolerance for kinky stories, I struggled through this book, with my teeth clenched and my fists balled in anger. I felt sick to my stomach on many occasions, especially when Prince Alexi tells the tale of his own abuse and degradation.
Whoever claimed that the story told in this book has anything to do with BDSM ought to look up the term and learn that one of the key elements of BDSM is the ability to make it stop, with a safeword that ends either the scene or the relationship. It's also supposed to be sane, safe and consensual.
None of the slaves in this book gave their consent for the treatment they received, nor was it sane or even safe. No thought was given to the fact that injuries would occur, especially if someone is sodomized repeatedly without lube, or proper preparation.
No, this book is about abuse, repeated rape degradation, humiliation, breaking the spirits of young, innocent boys and girls and spanking. It describes the pain, horror and fear these boys and girls experience at the hands and tools of their masters, after having been thrust into this world of sexual sadism without an explanation and being simply expected to obey, in all things, no matter how abusive and humiliating those things are.
Did I mention spanking? Spanking, as punishment or for the amusement of the vile people who are in charge. Spanking with bare hands and paddles and leather covered sticks. Spanking while strung up like a roast pig, spanking while scurrying on hands and feet to pick up things, spanking while bridled (incl. bit) and wearing hoof-like shoes, running for your life. Spanking while having a rod inserted into your anus to hold you up. Spanking, spanking, spanking. Spanking until your behind is welted and bruised (which isn't spanking but beating, but let's not split hairs, shall we?).
I can't even call this a rape fantasy, because that still would require that the slaves in this book have any kind of recourse to stop the fantasy.
Alas, they have none. None whatsoever. NONE.
I don't understand why the author shrouded this as the retelling of a fairytale. There's nothing remotely romantic or erotic about any of the plot, contents, or characters. Nor does it have anything to do with awakening someone's sexuality.
There's not even much emotion in it. Sure, Prince Alexi confesses his love for Beauty, but I can't believe that he knows what it really means, considering his own story. I don't think any of the characters in this book know the true meaning of love.
The characters are one-dimensional, without any emotional depth. The only one that somewhat intrigued me was Prince Alexi, who then lost all points with me when he unemotionally recounted the tale of his own abuse.
The writing style, keeping it in the tone of a fairytale, also doesn't lend itself to showing. We're told of emotions, but I could never actually comprehend them in the given situations. Lady Juliana professes to 'love' Beauty, but does nothing to help her situation. The Prince who claims her professes to be obsessed with her, that he loves her like no other, yet is the one who begins the rape, abuse and humiliation.
And the Queen, his mother, is the vilest of them all. Her conduct is sadistic and cruel and utterly reprehensible, and her depravity knows no end.
Strangely enough, she doesn't seem to have a husband. I wonder if that means anything.
Perhaps I'm missing the point. There is a scene at the end of this book in which Beauty takes a stand and manipulates the situation to get an outcome she desires (albeit one that may not be in her best interest), which is the only time her character shows any kind of backbone. This is the only reason I will likely read the next book, because I'm curious enough to want to see what will happen next.
Cats have nine lives, right?
Also, if you decide to call a male penis an organ or a phallus throughout the entire book, then you probably don't want to call the matching female anatomy a vagina. That just didn't gel for me.
One positive thing I can say about this book is that Ms. Rice succeeded in keeping the writing tone (not the plot or the contents) to that of a fairytale.
I received a free ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.
View all my reviews