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A Wicked Thing

Review

A Wicked Thing

Now this was a pleasant surprise. I’m not going to lie --- after seeing the cover of A WICKED THING and reading the back, I was convinced I was going to encounter yet another derivative YA fairy tale adaptation. However, I was proven wrong, and never did that feel so good! Thomas’ novel takes place in a vaguely European medieval kingdom where Princess Aurora has just awoken after her century long sleep. She finds that her destiny has been foretold in tapestries and storybooks in all the years preceding, and she has a long list of expectations set before her that she must fulfill to bring peace to the kingdom of Alyssinia.

But it is quickly revealed that absolutely nothing is as it seems, and beneath the poised, polite exteriors of King John and Queen Iris and all those that follow them, lurks sinister tyranny and sparks of rebellion that could throw the whole world into chaos. Aurora is betrothed to her prophesized “true love” Prince Rodric, a meek but kind-hearted young man who slowly reveals that he too feels trapped and bound by his circumstances. But Aurora does not, in fact, love her supposed true love, especially when you throw in a rascally inn boy named Tristan and a conniving but strong-willed prince from a neighboring kingdom.

[A WICKED THING] stoked a great warm fire of hope inside of me that young girls will have access to great feminist fiction.

 However, do not think for one second that this becomes a story of love and decisions that only have to deal with men and romance. I’ll just cut right to the chase ---- this story was unabashedly feminist, and thank God for that, for it is wonderful. Throughout the novel, Thomas expertly captures the pressures women face to constantly maintain perfection and beauty and the feeling that women have no agency or control in their lives. Watching Aurora stumble through the haze of waking up 100 years into the future and blossom into a realistic feminist heroine left me cheering as each page turned. Now I will say that the writing itself as an isolated component was good, not spectacular. It was like a Sedan: it was reliable, sturdy, effective and it got you where you needed to go. The main power lay in the story and the message, and boy did Thomas hit those right out of the park. Really, just soaring home runs.

Though I’m a bit too old for the intended audience of this book, I still found myself enraptured in the gender politics constantly at play in the narrative, both on the surface and buried deep in the subtext. And I’m glad that the intended audience is younger women, because young girls need characters like Aurora. She’s not a superhero, and I say that meaning she has relatable power. She’s the kind of role model young girls should have because she’s just like them. She may be scared and confused and overwhelmed, but she is not afraid to seize the moment when the time comes, and this version of Aurora will inspire young girls to seize the moment, too.

 I admired Thomas for not lingering on teen love and for really not tying Aurora down to the expected necessity of having a love interest. It was yet another refreshing component to this novel. I admit the pace was quite slow at first, and it wasn’t until a third of the way in that I became fully invested, but that didn’t turn out to be a huge problem. I enjoyed the characters, even though there were times that Thomas seemed to dip a little into stereotypes for the lesser roles. Rodric is also a relatable character for young men, especially those who also feel lost and confused. I hope that young men will read this book too so they can be inspired by Rodric’s journey and, of course, support women like Aurora. Finnegan, the foreign prince, was devious and dynamic without overdoing it, and it was nice to see an author not fall into the bad boy trap. Also, the fact that the kingdom was named after a woman who was a great queen gave me some feminist feels.

All in all, this book was such a pleasant surprise, and it stoked a great warm fire of hope inside of me that young girls will have access to great feminist fiction. I cheer for you, Aurora, and I am honestly excited for the next book, and I cheer for you, Rhiannon Thomas, for writing great feminism in one of the most unexpected places.

Reviewed by Corinne Fox on February 25, 2015

A Wicked Thing
by Rhiannon Thomas