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Book Review: Once [Six Historically Inspired Fairytales]

Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales (5 star review)

Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales

written by Elisabeth Grace Foley, Rachel Heffington, J. Grace Pennington, Emily Ann Putzke, Suzannah Rowntree, & Hayden Wand

476 pages // published in 2016 // fairytale retelling


Six fairytales you thought you knew, set against a tapestry of historical backgrounds.

A lonely girl plots revenge in the shadow of a mountain. A stolen princess fumbles a century backward. A dwarfish man crafts brilliant automatons. A Polish Jew strikes matches against the Nazis. A dead girl haunts a crystal lake. A terrified princess searches a labyrinth. A rich collection of six historically inspired retellings, Once is a new generation of fairytales for those who thought they'd heard the tales in all their forms.

Featuring the novellas of Elisabeth Grace Foley, Rachel Heffington, J. Grace Pennington, Emily Ann Putzke, Suzannah Rowntree, and Hayden Wand.

My Review...

5 Star Rating

These novellas invert the fairytales we grew up with, and make it enjoyable to read as an adult. While reading Once, I was always trying to piece together the elements of the story, trying to see through the plot to find the original. And what I found out? There is always just enough of the original fairytale so that you can see the similarities, but it's reborn into a completely new story to dive deep into.

I would best recommend this story collection for older teens... and adult readers too!

And here's a few of my personal thoughts on each novella...

The Mountain of the Wolf
by Elisabeth Grace Foley
This one, for me, seemed to take off at a slow start, with the momentum building up to the end. I'm sharing no secret in saying this is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Let me tell you, in those final chapters, it is suspenseful! When I still had 2-3 more chapters left, I could hardly bear the intensity of not knowing yet how this Western showdown would end.

She But Sleepeth
Rachel Heffington 
I love this story. It's my favorite in the whole collection. It sent me reeling for days after reading it. Perhaps because this novella is about a magical book and a hidden staircase that transports the heroine to another time in history. This writer is definitely a kindred spirit of mine when it comes to books being magical. I love how this story uses a lot of historical detail and actual fact to construct something fantastical around it. It's a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, and the main character Maria is transported from modern day to 1897, under the reign of King Carol I of Romania. The imagery is real, the gypsy people are enlightening, and the whole story is masterfully woven together. In short, I am entranced by this story.

J. Grace Pennington
An historical-sci-fi take on the tale of Rumpelstiltskin. This is certainly a one-of-a-kind story. A young lady who dreams of being able to build devices and work with artificial intelligence gets the chance of a lifetime, when a a marriage proposal arrives -- hinging on the fact that she will experiment and build to her heart's content. The situation is rocky though, and trust is built on lies. And one day, the deception will bite hard -- in the shape of the altered man with a red-lit blinking eye.
*NOTE: The young lady in this story debates on if she wants to have a baby or not, due to a plot twist.

Sweet Remembrance
Emily Ann Putzke

The Little Match Girl comes to life in Nazi Germany. I thought this was definitely an interesting historical take on the original by Hans Christian Andersen. In fact, I think it is the perfect setting to retell this story in. I felt that the same theme of hope-in-oppression sounds true in Sweet Remembrance.
*NOTE: The story has one instance of rough language, which I was surprised to see in this collection. 

Death Be Not Proud
Suzannah Rowntree
This story is a fascinating suspense novella. It is a rather intense hunt of a girl who has already died. The setting is what really intrigued me: New Zealand in the Jazz Age. (Don't see too many books with that kind of setting!) The one has a Snow White theme, and is pretty cool.

With Blossoms Gold
Hayden Wand
The Rapunzel fairytale, reinvented. Not only does this Rapunzel keep herself locked inside a stone tower, she is also locked in a "prison of the mind". If she is to ever think of setting foot outside her domain, or ponder social contact with the outside world (aside from her weekly deliveries), deep-rooted anxiety kicks in. This is certainly an interesting spin on the original, and I saw that a lot of imagination went into the creation of this story. Well done.

Once is available on Amazon in e-book format.

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1 comment:

  1. These stories sound SO interesting!! I love retellings and am always looking for unique ones!