Note: Review copy received from the author
Title: Finding Aurora
Author: Rebecca Langham
Publisher: NineStar Press
Genre: Lesfic / Fantasy
Rebecca Langham’s debut novel Beneath The Surface was, in my opinion, a superb piece of sci-fi. As such, I was eager to dive into her new novella Finding Aurora. This time, Rebecca is working in a fantasy world, providing us with an LGBTQ retelling of the classic fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty.
The first thing to note here is that, even with the short length of the book, it’s clear that the magic system for the world has rules. We get enough of a glimpse of this to feel that there’s a structure in place, and that is something that really enriches this sort of story. Sure, it may not get to the near technical manual levels of some longer works, but that level of detail isn’t needed here. Rebecca is great at creating vivid pictures of what’s happening and shows us what we need to know, rather than padding it all out. In particular, I was really intrigued by the number of very different but equally well-crafted spells used by our protagonist Talia.
The story hurtles along at a decent pace, and we don’t really waste any pages. It’s a concise retelling and all the better for it. What this means is that when we’re not dealing with magical workings and action, we get plenty of character growth and exploration of ideas. For example, the discussion about the existence of love’s first kiss and how it exists long before you meet was fascinating. On top of that, we have a nice spectrum of representation here, with a FF pairing, bisexuality, and asexuality all covered by the characters. I was also really happy with how the book dealt with the first kiss between the slumbering princess and her rescuer; the character in question does acknowledge the inherent problem of the sleeping curse as it pertains to consent and acts in a necessary but well thought out way.
In terms of negatives, there’s very little to talk about. The short length may well leave you wanting a little more, of course. I’d also say that I spotted the twist ending long before it happened, though I did feel that the clues were in place to enable this if you look for them. No, my only real issue is that, as good as the ending is, it does leave some plot threads hanging. While it’s fun to try to figure out where things went next, it would have been nice to see some of it carry through to a definite conclusion.
In all though, this is a marvelous, quick read. It actually marks the first time in a long while that I’ve been compelled to read a book in one sitting. This is an easy 4 out of 5.