Series: Once Upon a Time
Author: Cameron Dokey
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Year: 2012
Read happily ever after with this magical repackage that includes three enchanting, retold fairy tales.In this value-priced bind-up of three beloved retellings, readers will journey to faraway fairy tale lands. Before Midnight revisits Cinderella's story in France, Golden puts a new spin on Rapunzel's romance, and Wild Orchid reimagines the Chinese tale of Mulan. With so much real-life drama in today's busy world, Once allows readers to escape into whimsical realms where every story has a happily ever after.
Once is a bind-up of three retellings. Since there are basically three novels and there’s no connection between the characters, I’ll write separate reviews for each of them.
Before Midnight (★★★)
Before Midnight is a retelling of Cinderella. This retelling is more of a new take on Cinderella in a way that the author kind of twists the plot. So I will not talk about the plot to avoid spoiler. For a fairytale, Before Midnight has no magic per se, like magic in a traditional sense. There’s no fairy godmother or magic pumpkin carriage. Instead, there are coincidences which the characters interpret as miracles. Wish plays an important part in this story. It seems like the story revolves around wish, for example Cendrillon wishes for her father’s forgiveness and Raoul wishes for knowing his true identity. I must say, Dokey did revamp Cinderella in unexpected ways. The no magic aspect, the Cendrillon’s father and stepmother twists, and the addition of Raoul are refreshing to read. It was a nice retelling read. Although if you’re looking for romance, I don’t think this one is suitable for you. Since I believe Before Midnight more focuses on familial love.
Golden is a retelling of Rapunzel. While this fairy tale is famous for long hair and a tower, our Rapunzel in Golden is bald. That’s not a spoiler by the way, because that’s clearly established from chapter one. The fact that Rapunzel is bald is very interesting. Why did the author take away Rapunzel’s distinguished feature? How would the tower imprisonment play out in the story? Turns out, there’s still the tower and the prince longing to save the damsel in distress. But it’s a long and quite a slow journey to get there. It took me more time to get into the story. Most part of the book revolves around Rapunzel’s childhood and her relationship with a sorceress who raised her like a daughter. The only thing I enjoyed reading is the banter between Rapunzel and a tinker’s boy named Harry. They’re fun to read and I like their relationship. Unlike Before Midnight, Golden has magical elements in it. Still, I like Before Midnight more than Golden because of the slow pacing in the beginning.
Wild Orchid (★★★.5)
Wild Orchid is a retelling of the Ballad of Mulan. Wild Orchid is my favorite of the three retelling in this bind-up. Maybe I’m biased since Mulan is actually one of my favorite princesses from Disney princesses. Wild Orchid opens up with Mulan’s childhood, which I appreciate because the Disney version doesn’t really show that side of her. Her childhood is an important addition to the story because that’s where we learn how she became this brave warrior. I just love Mulan so much, I love her personality. I love it that she’s so curious and willing to learn new things even though it deviates from the societal customs at that time. For example, it was unusual for women to learn how to read and write, but Mulan wanted to learn these skills from her best friend Li Po. I also love Mulan and Li Po’s friendship. They got each other’s back and there’s no will they or won’t they situation with them. I feel like the romance is kind of rashly added at the end. So there’s only a small portion of it in the story, which is fine by me anyway because I was interested more in Mulan. Wild Orchid is action packed so it was a rather quick read. I enjoyed reading it.
Overall, Once is a fun retelling of two famous fairy tales and one famous legend. The writing is not the best, but the premise of each retelling is intriguing. If you’re familiar with Disney’s version of these three stories, this book will give you a refreshing view of them.
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