4 January 2016

Review: Once (Once Upon a Time #11, #9, #15)

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Cameron Dokey
Format: Paperback
Pages: 193
Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Etienne de Brabant is brokenhearted. His wife has died in childbirth, leaving him alone with an infant daughter he cannot bear to name. But before he abandons her for king and court, he brings a second child to be raised alongside her, a boy whose identity he does not reveal.

The girl, La Cendrillon, and the boy, Raoul, pass sixteen years in the servants' care until one day a very fine lady arrives with her two daughters. The lady has married La Cendrillon's father, and her arrival changes their lives. 

When an invitation to a great ball reaches the family, La Cendrillon's new stepmother will make a decision with far-reaching effects. Her choice will lead La Cendrillon and Raoul toward their destiny -- a choice that will challenge their understanding of family, test their loyalty and courage, and, ultimately, teach them who they are.

My Thoughts: You have to go into this series with fewer expectations than other novels, I think. When I picked up this novel, I thought it would be like other fairytale retellings that I had read before. I was very wrong because these aren't full length novels, they are fairytales told in fairytale format. They have the mythological happenings and the fast-paced feel of fairytales. They skip ahead in time without concern for the minute details of the story. These novellas don't need to go into deeper detail, they tell the story. That is all they set out to do. They stick more to the feel of original fairytales than other retellings...and I loved it.

This was the first of the bunch that I read. It did the most work to break down my expectations. It accomplished this wonderfully. I found myself interested in the story very quickly. It was different enough from the original fairytale (and the Disney versions) to keep me interested in what was happening. Plus, despite my attempts to guess what was going to come next, I only ever managed to get things half right. I absolutely love the message of this story and was happy with the fairytale ending. 

This was a very good fairytale retelling. I loved how true it was but that it still had a unique twist.

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Cameron Dokey
Format: Paperback
Pages: 179
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Summary: Before Rapunzel's birth, her mother made a dangerous deal with the sorceress Melisande: If she could not love newborn Rapunzel just as she appeared, she would surrender the child to Melisande. When Rapunzel was born completely bald and without hope of ever growing hair, her horrified mother sent her away with the sorceress to an uncertain future.

After sixteen years of raising Rapunzel as her own child, Melisande reveals that she has another daughter, Rue, who was cursed by a wizard years ago and needs Rapunzel's help. Rue and Rapunzel have precisely "two nights and the day that falls between" to break the enchantment. But bitterness and envy come between the girls, and if they fail to work together, Rue will remain cursed...forever.

My Thoughts: This is the opposite of what you think of when you think of Rapunzel and I LOVE IT. The twist in this book was fantastic. Melisande made me very mad during this novel. I did not like some of the choices she made. Rue was annoying but understandably so. I was very happy with the ending. This ending was my favourite of the three in this anthology. I thought that it was unique...wow, the ending is hard to talk about without giving away spoilers. I'm sorry this is less than informative. If you only read one of these retellings, make it this one.

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Cameron Dokey
Format: Paperback
Pages: 224
Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Wielding a sword as deftly as an embroidery needle, Mulan is unlike any other girl in China. When the emperor summons a great army, each family must send a male to fight, tom-boyish Mulan is determined to spare her aging father and bring her family honour  so she disguises herself and answers the call.But Mulan never expects to find a friend, let alone a soul mate, in the commander of her division, Prince Jian. For all of Mulan's courage with a bow and arrow, is she brave enough to share her true identity and feelings with Prince Jian?

What I Think: The best thing about this novel was that it had so much more to the story than the other two retellings I read by this author. There was so much more to love. It was closer to a full length novel and that made me happy. I enjoyed hearing more about Mulan's childhood and how she became who she was. This became the majority of the story. Her growing into herself and her family was the most important part of this story. It wrote it as if her being a hero was just a side note. It was great to read a story where there was more to the hero than just the fact that they were a hero. I loved watching her grow with her friends, her caretakers, and her father. I only wish that we would have seen more of Prince Jian's reaction to...you know, her being a girl. Not that Disney is the rule for retellings but that was an important part of the movie and should have been a big deal in this story. I guess he had some time to come to grips with it but I expected more from that. The battle seemed to go very fast but I suppose it wasn't the most important aspect of the novel anyway so it didn't bother me too much. I really enjoyed this story and loved getting backstory on Mulan. 

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