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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
If I Die Before I Wake by Martii Maclean is a modern fairy tale adventure about one girl's journey to save her family from a curse. Along with her sister and mother, Vreni has been in and out of a sleep for the last century. Her father has sat by their side all these years, waiting for the moments when they're awake. They've been kept safe by the Wise Sisters who have hidden them from evil Alchemists. Vreni craves freedom more than anything, so she convinces her sister to sneak out into town. The night takes a turn she doesn't expect when her sister falls into a sleep. To save her sister, Vreni has no choice but to trust the charming William and reveal her family secret. This decision sets her on a path to seeking out the Wise Sisters to help break her family's curse. She teams with William to explore the elements, dive into the past, and face dangers that could be deadly.
Vreni and her family have a curse straight out of fairy tales. The commonly used sleeping curse takes a new approach. Instead of an endless sleep, Vreni and her family wake up off and on throughout the years, which prolongs their lives through the century. Instead of a true love's kiss to break the curse, she takes on her own mission to save her family from the curse. As the story progresses so do the magical elements which take on a fun otherworldly quality, even including butterflies with eyes and a ride in a tornado. Her journey takes her into the past to explore the origins of the curse and to face elements that bring out her bravery and strength. As Vreni tackles breaking this curse, she's also faced with being a teenager in a constantly changing world. She's been kept away from the world so she feels trapped and stifled, seeing this curse as a prison. This feeling leads her to have some teenage rebellion and drives her longing to find freedom outside of the curse and her home. She and William take on a role that feels like magic detectives solving a case in how to break a curse.
If I Die Before I Wake has a subtle humor throughout with bold magical moments in a story full of heart and an emotional journey of bravery. Family is at the core as everything Vreni does is for her family and their bond is what gives her strength. Romance grows between William and Vreni, which takes on a fairy tale vibe as William is drawn into helping her break this curse, but while he's charming, his role is more of a partner to her hero. A fairy tale blend of fun magical adventure and an emotional journey to break a curse. If I Die Before I Wake is a story about bravery that weaves through time with charming characters, a sweet blossoming romance, and the bonds of family.