A Kiss in Time, by Alex Flinn, for Timeslip Tuesday

A Kiss in Time, by Alex Flinn  (2009), is a sleeping beauty reimagining, in which a modern boy, Jack, kisses awake a European princess, Talia, who's been sleeping for three hundred years.  Although Talia hasn't actually travelled through time, it is as if she has--everything in the present is of course strange to her.   And the whole castle, and it's inhabitants, were all asleep in true fairy tale fashion, so it is as if a whole late 17th/early 18th community were whisked to the present.

When Jack goes AWOL from the European Tour his parents had sent him on, he did not expect to end up crashing through briars and finding a sleeping castle.  Nor did he expect that kissing the sleeping princess would wake her up (obviously he is not a fairy tale reader).  But Talia, who had pricked herself on a spindle 300 years earlier, knows that the kiss was destined to happen.  But is Jack really the true love destined for her by the terms of the enchantment?  Jack certainly doesn't think he is--his first impressions of Talia are not at all favorable.   But when she travels back to Florida with him, and he gets to know her (and she gets to know herself better too, outside the constraints of her protected princess life) he begins to think otherwise.  And when the evil fairy interferes again, Jack embraces his role and set out to make happily ever after come true....

At first both Jack and Talia are unpleasant company; both are kind of spoiled and needy and unappealing.  It doesn't help that it is really icky to kiss a strange girl you just happen to find sleeping in her home.   Happily they grow up (remarkable and unbelievably quickly in just one week; little flashbacks showing Talia being decent to the Poor while being a princesses are more awkward than convincing), and happily the circumstances of their meeting are enough to keep things interesting until they become more pleasant company!  It is not a particularly realistic romance, but when fairy magic and destiny are involved, realism isn't really something one can expect.  

Disbelief has to be suspended pretty actively in just about every other aspect of the story as well.  Talia's adaptation to the 21st century is also a lot less fraught than I imagine would really be the case.  Her observations of American teen life are mildly amusing, but not tremendously insightful or thought-provoking.   Don't go reading it for a convincing look at the late 17th century, because the past as presented here is an odd medieval enlightenment mash-up that doesn't convince at all.  And don't be expecting that Jack's fraught relationship with his parents will be convincingly resolved--it is a pretty magical happy ever after on that front too. 

However, it you enjoy fairy tell retellings that add interesting twists, this is worth reading as long as you don't have expectations of greatness with regard to plot or character and are in the mood to accept an unbelievable story somewhat uncritically; I read it in a single sitting, with my mind peacefully turned off, and as a result was able to enjoy the premise just fine. 


  1. This gets a lot of love in my library in February, when I encourage the boys to read books with girls on the cover. Once they get past the ball gown, they seem to enjoy it. Her other fairy tale books (Beastly, Cloaked) are darker. Good to see this one!

  2. I recognize this one! One of the few I dropped midway through. I hated both the characters in the first couple chapters (I vividly remember wanting to smack Jack when he remarked on visiting another boring museum...sure, he's a teenage boy, but...) I might have given it more time but I had other books I wanted to read, and didn't want to spend more time in these characters' company!


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