Book Review: 'Down the River and Awakening the Rose' by Ann T. Bugg

Kristina PinoComment
It's been a while since I've picked up one of the Happily Ever After books by Ann T. Bugg. I missed this release back in May, but in anticipation of Book 5 (to be published in November), the author got in touch with me so I can get up to speed.

If you're only just joining me on the adventures of Val and Sam thorough fairylands, rest assured that these books can each pretty much stand on their own despite being a series. But it wouldn't be a bad idea to read up on previous entries.

Rose picks up a story that was briefly introduced back in the first book. Val and Sam don't realize who Phillip (a boy they encounter when they're pulled away from their own world) is until the very end of the story, but that's OK. The very beginning of this book foreshadows the big, exciting theme that would dominate the tale until it's time for Phillip's HEA: Dragons. No sooner than Val talks about how she wants to ride one does a dragon appear in the sky, which is where the gallant hero comes in.

As with Art, the girls accomapny a male lead, which I feel once again broadens the book's appeal. The fact that Phillip's story also has a pretty heavy twist, moving away from the tale of Sleeping Beauty as popularized by Disney, made this book totally fresh and exciting. Unfortunately, divulging any further details would mean spoiling major plot points, and we can't have that! Let's just say that there are dragons (most importantly: a baby dragon Phillip carried into story) and magic. And it really isn't what you think.

The beginning of the story this time came around rather quickly. The transition between the foreshadowing and the transfer by Merlin's magic to another realm happened rather unceremoniously, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it just felt abrupt. The rest was well- (and fast-) paced, and there were just enough hints dropped in here and there for the reader to guess at what was coming, yet still remain interested in reading on. I mean, as it is, we know that Phillip is going to wake up a princess.

There are very few things that hold Rose back, and they didn't get the way of my enjoyment of it. A younger person within the target demographic (this book is MG-level) won't even detect any issues. Ann T. Bugg's storytelling has improved as this charming series goes on, so I am now eagerly anticipating the next one which will feature Jack (and the Beanstalk) and the return of Snow. Thankfully, I won't have long to wait!

Once again, thanks to Ms. Bugg (a.k.a. June Kramin) for providing me with this review e-copy.