Zamin, Mira: The Puppet Queen: A Tale of the Sleeping Beauty (2012)

The Puppet Queen
Cover image: “Sweet Nothings”:
John William Godward (1861-1922)
Cover design by Mira Zamin
800px-Sweet_Nothings_by_Godward
Dolce far Niente (1904)
Gorgeous painting

Various versions of the Sleeping Beauty tale have been around since the late 1600’s. The Puppet Queen adds itself to that list and keeps itself somewhat bleak in the tradition of folk-tales.

Twins, fraternal ones, can be as different from each other as any other pair of siblings. Selene and Auralia are like night and day. Auralia is the serene and proper one while Selene is the dark-haired girl in fine, torn tunics, tumbling into trouble any day of the week. Auralia is ready to embrace adulthood while Selene thinks the whole thing sounds like a bore. For a girl growing up in a society such as the one described in The Puppet Queen adulthood could be very constricting, and for a girl like Selene adulthood would probably have been excruciating to adjust to.

Life in the world of folk-tales tends to be fraught with danger. Curses, wickedness, murder, rape, and abuse of various sorts seem to trail through them all. There is always a way out, but that way tends to carry a high price and the “hero” must find it in them to pay it. If not – well …

The curse of Sleeping Beauty and of The Puppet Queen is one of sleep. Sleep for a castle in Sleeping Beauty and sleep for a whole country in The Puppet Queen. The only one to escape the curse in The Puppet Queen is Selene, and Selene it is who must save the day.

I think what I liked most about The Puppet Queen is that it stayed true to the spirit of folk-tales. People in the middle-ages knew how to tell stories. That these stories are used as a base for modern tales only shows the quality of the stories and their value as teaching tools.

I like the way Mira Zamin showed how difficult it was for Selene to withstand Gwydion. Their relationship was clearly an abusive one. But for Selene to break out of that relationship just wasn’t done in the days portrayed in the story. Perhaps she manages to do so and perhaps she doesn’t, but her experiences are the experiences of many women in relationships today. He who was once Prince Charming might well turn into King Terror. I appreciated Princess Selene’s resilience and the way she kept on going no matter what. Her main goal was to break the curse and she would endure what she must to reach her goal.

So, yeah – I enjoyed The Puppet Queen.


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