Review: Briar Rose by Jana Oliver


A dark and sexy reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale from the author of THE DEMON TRAPPERS.

For Briar Rose, life is anything but a fairy tale. She’s stuck in a small town in deepest Georgia with parents who won’t let her out of their sight, a bunch of small-minded, gossiping neighbours and an evil ex who’s spreading nasty rumours about what she may or may not have done in the back of his car. She’s tired of it all, so when, on her sixteenth birthday, her parents tell her that she is cursed and will go to sleep for a hundred years when the clock strikes midnight, she’s actually kind of glad to leave it all behind. She says her goodbyes, lies down, and closes her eyes . . . And then she wakes up. Cold, alone and in the middle of the darkest, most twisted fairy tale she could ever have dreamed of. Now Briar must fight her way out of the story that has been created for her, but she can’t do it alone. She never believed in handsome princes, but now she’s met one her only chance is to put her life in his hands, or there will be no happy ever after and no waking up.


As a huge fan of Jana Oliver’s previous four-books, The Demon Trappers Series, soI was more than happy to review this new book.  I was intrigued to see what she did with a different story world, different characters and tackling an established fairytale in her own way.  I’d loved the strength of voice in Jana’s characters in her other stories and couldn’t wait to see that strength in these new voices.

Briar Rose is a teenage girl with her head in the the clouds with fairy tales, finding Prince Charming and dreams of escaping small town life being her main daily thoughts.  Then a curse lays claim to Briar on the night of her 16th birthday and she’s thrown into a nightmarish fairytale dream where she has to fight her way out without being killed first.  Briar’s friends then follow her into the nightmare to come to her aid and break the curse holding her hostage.

Not knowing the original fairytales too well myself, I felt like I would be in for a treat to see what Jana would do with the original material’s themes when transporting them into her landscape.  Reading Briar Rose was a struggle because it felt like I was reading an early draft of a potentially interesting book that hadn’t yet been tweaked and tidied in the editing and redraft process.  There were even typos and grammatical errors that really should have been picked up on by editors.  My spelling isn’t perfect but even I know that “flab” doesn’t have quite the same meaning as “fab” in a sentence.

I found connecting with Briar difficult because I couldn’t identify with her as a person.  I couldn’t find a level to bond with her so it made following her plight less engaging.  Plus there seemed to be quite a few plots and sub-plots going on which meant I didn’t have time to really engage with any of them.  Off the back of reading the stories of Demon Trappers and headstrong female, Riley in Jana Oliver’s previous book series, Briar Rose wasn’t the kind of female character I expected and left me saddened that Jana’s strength of character as an author didn’t come across in this book. 

It’s a book that wouldn’t be a natural draw for me, with my current reading choices, but I had hoped Jana Oliver’s writing would pull me in to overcome it but unfortunately it was not to be.

Published by Macmillan Books UK and is available from here and bookshops now


  1. Aw, shame this didn't work out for you. I hate it when there are grammatical errors in books, it really frustrates me. And it sounds like Briar was quite a weak character. I like the premise of this so it's a shame it didn't live up to your expectations. Thanks for the honest review!

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