Book Review: Briar Rose by Jana Oliver

Briar Rose - Jana Oliver

I requested a review copy of Briar Rose because it sounded really awesome. I love fairytale retellings, and Briar Rose had all the makings of one that I could really fall in love with. Unfortunately, I didn’t fall in love with it.


I’m not really sure what it is about Briar Rose that didn’t reach out to me. But I just felt very detached from the book overall.


Since Briar Rose was written from the third perspective, which jumped from character to character without any warning, I felt it was difficult to really become attached to any one character, let alone the cast that was within the novel. Not one character had me cheering them on, or caring whether or not they returned to their small town lives and lived happily ever after.


Briar herself, our main character, was flighty, insecure, and naïve in all sense of the three words. She jumped from boy to boy in a matter of minutes, and I just felt that her interactions were overall very insincere. Especially when she decides that she is in love with the boy she ends up with. I just kept thinking to myself: you expressed your deep seeded hatred for him a few chapters ago, were flirting with another guy a few chapters before that, and kissing yet another guy a few chapters before that. And now you’re in love with this one? I’m sorry if I do not have the will to believe in your love.


And the same goes for her love interest. Well, the final one. Joshua. He was also proclaiming hatred and then was willing to jump into Briar’s curse immediately after hearing of it. And then they return and he’s proclaiming his hatred for her again, and then later on - his love. Again. Their ‘love of a lifetime’ was very topsy turvy, and just not very believable at all, unfortunately.


Some of the language used in this book was really out of context. For instance, Briar is having a conversation about missing home, and she uses the word ‘peeps'. I nearly fell off my seat when I read that. I mean, sure Oliver was trying to keep the language used by teens in the modern age, but I think when you’re in fear of dying and missing your family who you may or may not ever return to … peeps is an inappropriate word. There were other words, like ‘fave’. Oh, please. No. every time I came across any of these words, I wish someone had cut them out before publishing. They ruined the fairytale-esque picture that Oliver was trying to create, and it felt very put-on and fake.


The secondary characters were not particularly fleshed out, and yet there was a lot of room for it in a near 500 page novel. I think we could have had more insight into the kind of person Ruric was, as well as Reena, and Aurora. I felt as if we just scratched the surface with all three of these characters, when I think they would have been really interesting to read about.


The one aspect that I really did like about this novel was the magic. I felt that the druzak, the fata, and the weird incorporation of metal into the original story of Sleeping Beauty were unique and interesting. I think there could have been more background information on these aspects, and more insight into their purpose in relation to the curse and the story. I, for one, would have enjoyed reading that.


As for the alignment with the base fairytale, Sleeping Beauty, I didn’t really feel it. I thought the inclusion of both Aurora and Briar Rose was more than a little confusing. I was left wondering whether or not Briar was supposed to be the princess, or whether it was Aurora. But I suppose this made Briar Rose very different to its predecessor.


Overall, I think that Briar Rose had potential, but just fell flat for me, personally, as a reader.


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