“From bestselling author Anne Rice, writing as A.N. Roquleaure. In the traditional folktale of ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ the spell cast upon the lovely young princess and everyone in her castle can only be broken by the kiss of a Prince. It is an ancient story, one that originally emerged from and still deeply disturbs the mind’s unconscious. Now Anne Rice’s retelling of the Beauty story probes the unspoken implications of this lush, suggestive tale by exploring its undeniable connection to sexual desire. Here the Prince reawakens Beauty, not with a kiss, but with sexual initiation. His reward for ending the hundred years of enchantment is Beauty’s complete and total enslavement to him…as Anne Rice explores the world of erotic yearning and fantasy in a classic that becomes, with her skillful pen, a compelling experience.”
I read the first chapter while browsing the library, and immediately put it back on the shelf. The upfront rape in this book is absurd. Ew, no. Later that week, I kept thinking about it. Maybe it gets better? Maybe the first chapter was the hook? Anne Rice usually uses grotesque things in her books to keep the reader interested. I wouldn’t doubt she did it again here. So I went back and checked it out.
I read up to page 66 and returned it.
The gross perversion of the Beauty character never ends. The prince comes, rapes her, saves her kingdom by waking them all up. Then he takes Beauty, and her parents are fine with it. No anger, no regret. She is shown publicly naked, made to crawl on the floor and kiss the prince’s boots and fetch him food with only her teeth. He spanks her, hard, in front of everyone in the inn. She is tied to a post for the whole village to look at her. We are constantly told about her perfect breasts and hair and butt. How red and sore her butt is. Nobody says a word against it. Nobody comes to her aid for her dignity or to save her or stop the prince. Everyone is just okay with all of this.
And the most insane part about this is Beauty’s okay with it too. Not entirely, and not in a self centered way. She was a virgin before all this. But she’s not angry at the prince for doing this to her. She eagerly wants to please him. Why? What is the point of that? If she had been angry about all of this, I would have liked it more.
She is brought to the Prince’s kingdom, where there are hundreds of other men and women, all naked, all used as sex slaves. All kept in this castle. Beauty sees all of this, and is curious, but ends up being okay with it. She just wants to please the prince. And all he wants to do is abuse her.
Then I found out there are two more books afterwards! There are three books in this series. I wouldn’t want to read that.
Is this supposed to be a statement on feminism today? Was this supposed to have a message about how society is treating women? If it is, I don’t care. It hurt reading this book.