I don't know if it has to do with the history that surrounds the book or the version of the story that the grandmother Gemma is constantly telling or that Yolen alternates chapters of Gemma telling the Briar Rose story with the real life events happening to Becca. All I know is that I couldn't stop reading it. One of my favorite parts was the story of the "prince." It's the one aspect we never get in any Sleeping Beauty tale.
We always know what happens to Briar Rose and her kingdom. We always know the prince comes and awakens her from her slumber. But, we never know what journey the prince took to get to her. Yolen tells his journey, his story. Granted, I did feel it may have been a bit too long at times, especially with the deep history she goes into. But, I liked seeing his part of the story as being part of the sleeping beauty tale.
I liked seeing the aspect of the story mixed in with the elements of the history. I could see every detail in the scene she paints and the items of history she chooses to represent the items of the story (i.e. barb wire = vines). I'd like to see Jane Yolen attempt more of these stories. I think I would like that very much.