Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales by Elisabeth Grace Foley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have to admit that this book has been one of the cleverest collections of retellings I have ever read. Half the time I didn’t know what story was being retold, which added a sense of mystery. What fairy tale would this story retell? And then some of them I’m not even sure what story they retell. While that might seem a turn off to some, I actually enjoy not knowing. I think it shows that the writer(s) did a wonderful job writing a unique story, not just “retelling”. I applaud all these wonderfully talented authors!
The Mountain of the Wolf by Elisabeth Grace Foley
This was a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but I couldn’t tell it was until the end of the story. Ms. Foley did a truly wonderful job giving her story a real life feel. It almost seemed as though I were out in the canyon with Rosa Jean, experiencing the heat, the dust, the work, etc. I didn’t feel like the era, time, and characters were forced into a Little Red Riding Hood plot, rather I felt that the story effortlessly resembled the story of Ms. Riding Hood. The characters, I felt, were well developed for such a short story. I was a little confused as to Rosa Jean’s motivations for bringing an outlaw to justice, but that may have been the fault of a distracted reader. Quincy. He’s a great character, one you will love getting to know.
She But Sleepeth by Rachel Heffington
This is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. While this story held more closely to a retelling feeling (with magic and obviously “evil stepmother” type characters), the story held so many unique twists and turns and feels. This story did confuse me a little bit with the concept…such as [if they buried a child, how did Maria end up in the future? How did they not know she was still alive if she didn’t truly die? (hide spoiler)] The ending was very unexpected and, for that reason, all the more heartrending. Definitely a good read!
Rumpled by J. Grace Pennington
May I just say: genius! I think this was (maybe…it’s hard to say) my favorite short story in this collection. This is a Rumpelstiltskin retelling set in a futuristic world. A girl who made simple AI (Artificial Intelligence) is married by the governor…to make complex AI. Problem is, her father exaggerated her skill, and she really has no idea what she’s doing. I won’t ruin the story for you because it is a wonderful web! It’s filled with trials, pain, inspiration, and love. This story is probably more mature in content then the other stories, so I would exercise a little parental caution before letting a child read it, but it really should be acceptable for teens since the mature content is presented in a good and respectful way.
Sweet Remembrance by Emily Ann Putzke
This is one story retelling I couldn’t figure out…until the end. I won’t ruin the story. This is a must read! I loved getting to know Kasia and Romek through Kasia’s memories. This was a wonderful retelling and very believable. The pain Kasia felt in her place as a Polish Jew in a Nazi infested world. Her struggle with certain events. Her determination to stand up as Romek had. A plus was that Kasia loved playing the piano and had a dream of being a concert pianist. I give bonus points to stories that have an aspect such as this and actually portray the enthusiasm and love musicians have for their art. Another must read!
Death be Not Proud by Suzannah Rowntree
This was the retelling I couldn’t figure out. What story was it retelling? The ending made sense, in a way, but at the same time I was still confused as to what happened. Maybe I was just distracted, but I couldn’t seem to make sense of the mystery. That said, I loved the suspense and reality of the whole thing…wait, I think I just figured out what story this is retelling. Snow White. Congratulations Ms. Rowntree! It took me way more than 20 times longer to figure out what the retelling was about than to read the short story. I am impressed. A book that keeps you thinking and considering a long while after reading it is inevitably a good book. If you like mystery, suspense, and a sweet romance, you definitely want to pick up this story!
With Blossoms Gold by Hayden Wand
This short story was a retelling of Rapunzel. I have to say that it reminded me a lot of Mrs. Melanie Dickerson’s fairy tale retellings (which I greatly admire), though it seemed more innocent and sweet. I absolutely loved watching Ben and Nella get to know each other. Ben reminds me of another Ben much like him (reference Becoming Bea by Leslie Gould to understand.) whom I liked very much. While Ben was a little of a silly-scratch that, carefree. He seems to be satisfied fully with what he has, acting young and carefree and pretending he doesn’t need love. But, if I’m not much mistaken, Ben desired to love someone completely and to be loved as much as his brother and his fiance who were definitely in love. I think that, underneath Ben’s almost flippant attitude was a character desiring some deep, complete connection. Like love. I am a great admirer of Ms. Wand. She writes in such a wise way as her stories always seem to have more to them than just a story. This short story spoke of facing fear and overcoming it. It spoke to the struggles and fears we have. It spoke to our desire for love. The way we hide our pain under carefree moods. Reminds me of Louisa May Alcott’s writing. I love L.M. Alcott’s writing because she teaches lessons with her books, but doesn’t force them. She just lets the story teach the lesson. Only a delicate hand can do such a thing and Ms. Wand has such a hand.
Ratings (# out of 5)
Romance: 4 (Not five because there is kissing and a little amount of description. Not lower than four because the kissing was not inappropriate for a teenage audience.)
Violence: 4 (Basically the same thing as above, there was violence, but it wasn’t bloody or gory and was approached in a matter of fact way rather than extremely descriptive.)
Language: 4 (Tentatively a four. I don’t seem to remember any language in the stories, but I have known myself to skip over language and promptly forget it was present. Only with books that have barely any language though.)
Substance Abuse: 4 (In Sweet Remembrance the characters have alcohol (some of which is illegal at that time), but none of the main characters get drunk. As far as I can tell, they are also all old enough to be consuming it.)
Thank you to each and every author who spent time writing these retellings for readers like me. I thoroughly enjoyed these stories. A double thanks for giving me the chance to read this collection in advance of its publication in exchange for my honest review. All the reviews expressed here are my own. You have my word.
Don’t be satisfied with mediocrity!