Ever since her brother Lief disappeared, Errin’s life has gone from bad to worse. Not only must she care for her sick mother, she has to scrape together rent money by selling illegal herbal cures. But none of that compares to the threat of the vengeful Sleeping Prince whom the Queen just awoke from his enchanted sleep.
When her village is evacuated as part of the war against the Sleeping Prince, Errin is left desperate and homeless. The only person she can turn to is the mysterious Silas, a young man who buys deadly poisons from Errin, but won’t reveal why he needs them. Silas promises to help her, but when he vanishes, Errin must journey across a kingdom on the brink of war to seek another way to save her mother and herself.
But what she finds shatters everything she believed about her world, and with the Sleeping Prince drawing nearer, Errin must make a heartbreaking choice that could affect the whole kingdom.
I wasn’t a fan of the first book in this series but since I already owned the sequels, I decided to give The Sleeping Prince a chance – and was pleasantly surprised although not blown away. All it took to get me on board was a more likable protagonist, a more engaging plot without love triangles, and a deep dive into the wonderful lore of this high fantasy world!
Remember when I complained about the title seemingly belonging to a different book in my review of The Sin Eater’s Daughter? Well, while The Sleeping Prince is a fitting title for this one, it also would have made a lot of sense swapping the two. This one goes all into the lore and explores the many fairytales and their grains of truth both in regard to the Sleeping Prince and Sin Eating – and what being the Sin Eater’s Daughter actually entails, which I dearly missed in the first book and became my biggest complaint thereof. Better late than never, I guess.
I also liked Errin, the new protagonist, much more than Twylla. She’s pretty much on her own fending for herself with her brother gone and her mother losing her mind to a mysterious illness. However, contrary to Twylla, she’s quite down-to-earth, resourceful and adamant in getting her way, relying on her past as a farmer’s daughter and an apothecary in training. She’s not one to give up without a fight. There’s actually one instance where I almost lost faith in her because her motives turned so egoistic it freaked me out. Fortunately, that got resolved quickly so I could go back cheering for her. I also enjoyed her mysterious dreams and wish they had played a bigger role.
Other characters of interest are first and foremost the mysterious Silas, who has a questionable past and dubious motives. While he was interesting in the beginning, he turned out to be quite … boring? I lost interest in him soon and I’m also not really on board with that ship. Then, there’s the Sleeping Prince, the fairytale turned reality who is quite the psychopath – I like! Although he’s more of a looming danger in the distance, he’s the most interesting of them all. Oh, and we also learn more about Lief – basically, he’s a total ass and I really hope there won’t be some kind of redemption for him. And last but not least, another character makes an appearance – spoilers ahead though it doesn’t come much as a surprise: As expected, Twylla is back. This Twylla, however, is vastly different from the protagonist of the first book. She’s much more mature and matter-of-fact, exactly how I wanted her to be, so this is a very welcoming change.
The writing, while better than in The Sin Eater’s Daughter, is still a little clumsy at times. There are a couple of repetitions of facts and it’s also too on the nose – dropping some exposition in the beginning of a chapter and then later on introduce something in the very same that’s now blatantly obvious thanks to the exposition earlier on. Give that stuff a little more space, so it won’t be so much in the face! There’s also unfortunately a slight imbalance in the structure. The first half relies very heavily on all sorts of flashbacks – read: exposition – into Errin’s past. And because that might not be enough exposition, there’s also a lot of info talk. I sometimes wanted to shake the characters, especially Errin and Silas. They talked, and talked, and talked, although there’s a war drawing near and they both had somewhere else to be two hours ago with important tasks on their hands. But no, they continue talking. But hey, people, at least we have a plot!
All in all, I expected the story to move much quicker. The blurb suggested it wouldn’t take long for Errin to hit the road. In fact, it took almost the first half of the book, which was way too long. As soon as she gets going, things start to be much more exciting. I love stories set on the road, the many adventures that are part of it. And it got more thrilling from there, with things to be revealed, fights to be fought, and sacrifices to be made. The last third was a wonderful set up for the last book in this series, to which I’m now really looking forward to. I’m a huge fan of the lore Melinda Salisbury is weaving here. After the raggedy first book, it all starts coming together nicely.