Friday, December 23, 2016

Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales

Title: Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales

Series: None

Year: 2016

~ Elisabeth Grace Foley
~ Rachel Heffington
~ J. Grace Pennington
~ Emily Ann Putzke
~ Suzannah Rowntree
~ Hayden Wand

Summary: 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. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters: 
~ Rosa Jean and Quincy Burnett
~ Maria and Heath
~ Amanda and Byron
~ Kasia and Romek
~ Ruby Black and Max Moran
~ Nella and Benedict

Review: I loved this collection so much! If it's not already on your bookshelf or your Kindle, you need to add this one right away! I'd highly recommend for any fairy tale enthusiast! We've got fantastic retellings for Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Rumplestiltskin, The Little Match Girl, Snow White, and Rapunzel. Truthfully, I was really excited to see some of the lesser-known fairy tales instead of the usual two or three that everyone ends up retelling. Just a pleasant change. 

The Mountain of the Wolf ~ I loved the descriptions and setting of this tale, but I found it difficult to pick up on the Little Red Riding Hood references at times. The point of view shifted a lot, jumping back and forth between the two main characters (Rosa Jean and Quincy) and then sometimes leaping out to a few minor characters, and it was a little confusing at times. However, the pace was really nice, and I got wrapped up in the story fairly quickly. By the middle, I was completely captivated. I thought it a really neat twist on the usual red hood and wolf story. Overall, I'd rate this story at 4 stars. Not my favorite of the collection, but very enjoyable, nevertheless.

She But Sleepeth ~ This was probably one of the cleverest Sleeping Beauty retellings that I've ever read. Rachel Heffington really outdid herself. The setting and historical details were brilliant and so captivating. I loved the vivid colors and descriptions! It was like reading a fairy tale on a roller coaster, honestly; so many twists and unexpected turns. I will admit, the ending caught me very much by surprise, but I thought Rachel handled it well, considering everything. But yes, for the happily ever after lover in me, it was a little disappointing. The gypsy magic was a little uncomfortable for me to read personally, as it borders on actual occult magic. I won't get on my soap box here (for space reasons) but it was because of this that I'd give this story 4 stars. Magic aside, it deserves 5 stars, but sorry, folks. That's just me.

Rumpled ~ This one ties for my favorite of the collection. I love the story of Rumplestiltskin, and this was just a brilliant retelling. Honestly, I'd reread this whole collection just for the enjoyment of devouring this tale. Fairy tale retelling + steampunk. SERIOUSLY. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT? It was amazing. The tale was wonderfully paced, with twists that were so unexpected, yet crafted so beautifully into the story. SO Rumplestiltskin. Amazing. Really. I loved the steampunk references. The characters, too, were so brilliantly shaped -- instead of just slapping stereotypical fairy tale peoples into the story and calling it good, J. Grace Pennington really took the time to flesh her characters out, making them seem so real and believable. 5 stars. Hands down. No questions asked.

Sweet Remembrance ~ This story had a really interesting concept: The Little Match Girl set during World War II with Jews as the main characters. I began it hungry to get into the story, but kinda floundered a bit while reading it. The chapters alternated between present-time, present-tense action and memories in past tense. Normally, it's hard for me to read in present tense, and it was difficult for me here. But that could just be a personal thing. I thought it went well with the story, considering the emphasis on the memories, but it isn't my favorite style. The story was a sweet romance, but almost a little too sappy and moody for my taste. Knowing the original fairy tale, I began the tale knowing exactly how it would end, and while I enjoyed it, there wasn't a lot that kept me driving on until the end. The only other thing I'd say about this story is a caution about the language. Overall, good, but unfortunately not my favorite. 4 stars.

Death Be Not Proud ~ This one blew me completely away. I've never seen Snow White like this before, but it was AMAZING. I'll admit, at first I was pretty skeptical, because I couldn't see how Snow White was going to come through everything. By the end, I could only sit back in my chair and think, "That was more Snow White than Disney." 5 stars. The historical setting was difficult to follow, and that would be my main complaint. It was so cool to have a fairy tale set in New Zealand with tons of vibrant characters, but oftentimes I felt like the setting slipped into something more American and modern, making it not so completely believable. There is a lot of violence in this one (probably more than any other tale in this collection), but I thought it was handled well. In the end, I really have nothing else to do but to give it 5 stars. Thrilling, mysterious, odd, but so exciting.

With Blossoms Gold ~ If I didn't like Rumplestiltskin so much, this story would probably be my favorite. OF ALL TIME. Seriously, Hayden Wand did an amazing job. And I'm not just saying that. Rapunzel in Italy. I was skeptical, too, about this one, and I wasn't completely sold when I began it as the beginning was kinda cliche and slow. But since I love Rapunzel, I kept with it, and wow! Am I glad I did! The fairy tale details were so wonderfully woven into the story, and it just kept getting better. I found the main character Nella so realistic and believable -- and really easy to relate to. As an asthmatic, I've struggled in the past with panic attacks similar to hers, so it was so interesting to see how they were portrayed. I loved the brother scenes with Benedict and Orlando, and the whole "prince-becoming-blind" element from the original fairy tale WAS JUST SO AMAZING I CAN'T EVEN. I wish this story was a full-length novel, because I seriously need it to be. How many stars? Why ask? I wish I could give it 6. 

Did I already say everyone needed to read this collection? Yes? Okay, good.

Advisory: Romance (several kisses), language, and some violence. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Please note: I received a copy of this collection from the authors in exchange for my honest review.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment moderation has been enabled. Please make certain that all your comments contain appropriate subject, content, topic, and, most importantly, glorify God. Thank you!