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.
Kissed is a bind-up of three retellings by Cameron Dokey. I’ve read Dokey’s retellings before, called Once, and I quite enjoyed it. Kissed consists of Belle, Sunlight and Shadow, and Winter’s Child. I will give a detailed review of each story below.
Belle is a retelling (it’s obvious from the title) of the fairytale beauty and the beast. In this version, Belle (short for Annabelle), is the third daughter of a rich family. Her father owns a shipping company but he likes doing woodworking in his spare time. Belle has two older sisters. Both are extraordinarily beautiful, that Belle always feels inferior compared to them. One day, her father’s ships are just lost in the sea. The shipping company went bankrupt and Belle’s family moves to the countryside near a forest. In this forest then Belle will encounter the beast.
There are still a lot of aspects from this retelling that I haven’t told you, such as the woodworking that Belle also takes interest in. This would play a part in her relationship with the beast. Also there’s a Monsieur LeGrand, who is her father’s partner in the shipping company. Monsieur LeGrand often helps the family when they’re in trouble. He’s also the one who introduces Belle to the tale of a beast who lives in the heart of the wood. Nevertheless, you get the idea of this version of Beauty and the Beast.
Before I continue, let me tell you that my experience with Beauty and the Beast tale is only with Disney. I haven’t read the original tale so my criticism (I guess, kind of) is based on the Disney version. My first problem with this retelling is the fact that Belle was feeling insecure with her appearance. I know and I believe that every woman has felt this insecurity, but I don’t like the way it brought up in this story. Belle is one of my favorite Disney princesses because she’s a big reader (I’m a reader) and she has a big desire to see the world. Appearance doesn’t really being talked about. But in this version, Belle made such a big deal out of it.
I don’t think I have other problems with this story. Both parents are present in this retelling. Each has his/her share of wisdom to Belle’s situation which I think is great. Still, I only give Belle a two out of five rating. Maybe I’m biased because Belle is my favorite Disney princess. It bummed me out a bit when I knew that Belle in this retelling is not a reader. But I understand why. It’s irrelevant that Belle is a reader in this version. If you want to give it a go, just read it. It’s fun to read anyway.
Sunlight and Shadow (★★★.5)
When the earth was still young, a powerful sorcerer, Lord Sarastro married to the queen of the night, Pamina. Lord Sarastro himself is known as Mage of the day. Despite of their differences, they have a daughter together whom also named Pamina or Mina, for short. But their differences are also the reason why they live apart. Because of this, they made an agreement that Mina is to be raised by the queen until she’s sixteen. On Mina’s 16th birthday, she would be given to her father. So her father could choose a husband for her. But on the night before Mina’s birthday, her father broke the oath and took Mina from her mother. Heartbroken, the queen of the night seeks help from a prince to get her daughter back.
Sunlight and Shadow is a retelling of The Magic Flute. I’ve never heard of The Magic Flute so I decided to perceive this story from a new and fresh perspective as if this story wasn’t a retelling at all. My first impression of Sunlight and Shadow was this story is dramatic. Sometimes the conversation and the choice of words are over the top. But then I got to the end of the story and the author’s note part. I learnt that The Magic Flute is actually an opera. It suddenly makes sense. I don’t know why, but knowing that makes me appreciate this story more. I did enjoy reading Sunlight and Shadow though. This story is different and I like it.
In Sunlight and Shadow, Lady Mina will meet a prince and falls in love with him. It was love at the first sight (kind of, you’ll get what I mean if you read it). In other books, love at first sight would make me cringe but not with this. Because of its theatricality, it was understandable, even rather expected. I also like that instead of waiting for a savior like a damsel in distress, Lady Mina tried to save herself. Lady Mina is a brave girl. I really appreciate it when there’s a strong minded and brave woman character in a book.
Sunlight and Shadow is my favorite retelling in Kissed. I recommend reading this story. It was fun and glorious. Please, don’t feel intimidated by the fact that it’s a retelling of an opera.
Winter’s Child (★★★)
Winter’s Child is a story that comprised of several tales woven into one. First, we’re introduced to the tale of oh an innocent baby became Winter’s Child. She’s actually cursed because of her mother’s negligence. For the curse to be lifted, the Winter’s Child has to travel around the world to help people. Then we’re introduced to Grace and Kai, two teenagers that’s been friends since they were little. Grace, Kai, and the Winter’s Child would eventually meet each other. Grace and Kai would help to break the Winter’s Child’s curse.
Although it’s a retelling of the snow queen, it’s very different from Frozen which is a snow queen retelling by Disney. Since Frozen is popular, some people would compare Winter’s Child with Frozen but they are very different. In fact, I believe Winter’s Child is closer to the original tale. I’m quite familiar with the Snow Queen even before Frozen. I watched an animated movie of the Snow Queen when I was younger. So I do remember the broken mirror part. I remember I was scared watching the movie because of the setting and the theme make the fairy tale seems desolate. That’s how I felt reading Winter’s Child too. The story is rather safe (as it’s intended for younger readers), but reading about how Grace went after Kai travelling alone through a forest and land full of snow and white made me feel isolated and cold.
Besides the setting, Winter’s Child is just okay. I did enjoy reading it, but not as much as I enjoyed reading Sunlight and Shadow. But because of this retelling, I’m now intrigued to read the original Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen.
Okay, I’ve just realized that this review is longer than I intended to be. It’s even longer than my review of Once, which is also a bind-up of three retellings. But that’s fine. I do have a lot to say about this book, both positive and negative. All in all, if you like reading retelling or fairy tales, I kind of recommend this book. One of the three stories in this book is good, the others are just okay. My recommended story of the three is Sunlight and Shadow. It is my favorite story from this book.
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