Book review of Sleep Like Death by Kalynn Bayron

Book review of Sleep Like Death by Kalynn Bayron

Armed with well-honed combat skills and a magical connection to nature, Princess Eve wants nothing more than to defeat the Knight, a mysterious figure who’s been preying on the people of her kingdom. But just as Eve is about to turn 17, her mother, the Queen, secludes herself in her room, mumbling to a mysterious mirror. Eve decides that the time has come to fulfill her destiny and sets out to defeat the Knight once and for all, a journey that leads to treachery, battles, and answers about who the Knight really is—and who Eve really is, too.

Kalynn Bayron once again puts an inventive twist on a classic fairytale in Sleep Like Death. This time, she turns Snow White into a story of morally complicated characters and twisted legends. There’s a meta layer, too, as Eve collects tales of the Knight and observes how they change over time, allowing Bayron to explore how truth distorts into rumor and how that could lead to the birth of a fairy tale.

Sleep Like Death expands the world of Snow White into a universe of gray morality and ulterior motives. The Queen, for example, isn’t a jealous villain with clear motives; she’s a mother torn between her duty and her love for her daughter. The mirror isn’t just a soulless tool, it’s also a way for the characters to talk to the Knight’s charismatic and mysterious liaison, Nova. And Eve isn’t a dreamer, she’s a warrior—one whose passion grows into a balance of wisdom and experience.

Like the tale it’s based on, Sleep Like Death is a moving, memorable story about love, revenge and triumph. But it gives its characters room to breathe, letting them grow. Eve’s story strikes that delicate balance between classic and inventive: Bayron honors the heroine she takes inspiration from while maintaining the originality of her own character. It’s fun to recognize callbacks to Snow White while seeing how Bayron repositions familiar tropes and characters in new, innovative ways, turning the fairy tale on its head without betraying its heart and soul. 

Full of heroism, romance and wisdom, Sleep Like Death is a wonderful coming-of-age fantasy that will delight readers searching for a robust fairy tale retelling.

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