Review: The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty

by: Anne Rice
writing as A.N. Roquelaure

The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty was a story of pure pleasure. As much as I enjoy the good old Star Wars, Science Fiction, and other genre and style books, I have dearly missed the commanding and graceful words of Anne Rice. It’s been well over a year since I have either read a new novel or revisited an old one and I dearly missed it and her.

I read Sleeping Beauty in a matter of hours simply because the warm blanket of comfort felt so good to take in. There is always a peculiar mixture of gentleness and authority in her writing. Her fervor for every subject she conquers is unmatched. I have only seen one other writer carry her same fluid prosaic ability and that is William Shakespeare. It’s almost as though the words dance to you. There is a song behind every page and the words sing and dance with it. It is magnificence.

“No one to save her from me. No one to save me from her. My slave, my poor helpless slave…”

Beauty is quite plainly a “naughty” book fundamentally calling upon the desires of men and women to be dominated sexually. It’s telling the story of Sleeping Beauty after her Prince kisses her waking her from her hundred-year rest. Instead of taking her to be his wife and reign over the world he brings her to his castle and makes her his love slave, though she is not the only one. Princes and Princesses from the world across are brought to this kingdom.

This kingdom reigns over all the others. It’s people are required to serve for as many years necessary as slaves. They wear no clothing, crawl on all fours, and serve quite like an obedient animal. It is basic carnal desires realized fictionally, of course beautified by Rice’s alluring writing. Of all the pets, Beauty is special. She was not given as a tribute to the kingdom, she was claimed and she is the Crown Princes possession alone.

“It seems an insult to the night to speak of purpose and intent, when this common moment is so brimming full of blessed design tranquility. All things follow their course.”

The rest of the story entails jealousy, submission, desires, and love beyond all normal extremes, but always carries a sort of elegance and dignity about itself. There have been many reviews calling the tale pornography and that it is a massive contortion of fairy tales and destroyed Sleeping Beauty’s intentions. Frankly, I think it is more realistic than the idea of happily ever after, symbolic or no. Sometimes what you wish for comes in the packaging you desire, but the content within isn’t exactly as it seemed. I don’t believe this lesson was intentionally tossed into the story, but there were certainly a few allusions to it. Anne Rice always manages to show herself one way or another through her writing, but always subtly.

“You need not be disobedient to merit it. I will punish when it pleases me. Sometimes that will be the only reason for it.”

I’ve read the series and this is the best of them, but the rest are worth reading as well. The story itself is not particularly my cup of tea, though I did enjoy it. Mostly, I enjoyed the clever words of Anne Rice. Her ability to make everything beautiful and her imagined worlds feel so real. If I could see the world one day through her eyes and appreciate the art and beauty it holds I would consider myself a lucky woman.

4.5 stars


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