Review: Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales

Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales
Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales by Paula Guran
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fairytale retellings in an anthology – I was so drawn in by it. I have read anthologies before, but I don’t think any retelling-based ones. So, while it took me some time to finish it, thanks to some slow stories around the middle of the book, I am glad I completed it. I found the best stories at the start and finish of the book.

The stories I liked best were Coin of Heart’s Desire, Blanchefleur and Flight – they were innovative and beautifully written, at times combining two or more tales into one enjoyable story. Others like Lupine, Castle of Masks, Warrior Dreams and Below the Sun Beneath had interesting twists to the original stories, especially Castle of Masks, which was essentially a gender bender on the Beauty and Beast tale with a dash of Bluebeard thrown in. See, that’s the thing I love about retellings – how an age-old story can still be made more interesting by a few tweaks. Some stories like Egg, The Giant in Repose, The Spinning Wheel Tale and Eat Me, Drink Me, Love Me were more like deep philosophy than stories – they went beyond what a story is and made me question the essence of stories and why we have them. Eat Me, Drink Me, Love Me tells a story within a story – it tells of what makes it to the ears of the listeners and how much more of the story is hidden by the storyteller. While I enjoyed more than half of the stories of the book, some of them really didn’t sit right with me, an example being Born and Bread – it was downright creepy, even by Grimm standards. I really didn’t get the meaning of that story. Other creepy stories included Egg, The Hush of Feathers, the Clamor of Wings and The Mirror tells All – they may have been well-written but the plot felt so weird. Finally, The Lenten Rose, Sleeping Beauty of Elista and The Road of Needles were not so well-written – in the case of Lenten Rose, keeping the timeline straight gave me a headache, while Sleeping Beauty of Elista hid behind all its symbolism and The Road of Needles was just plain exhausting to read.

So, I think this is the first time I am reviewing an anthology, though I have read quite a few. The thing about anthologies is that with so many different authors, and so many discontionus stories, it becomes difficult to judge the book overall. Story by story, I have reviewed each to compile them into the review above, while keeping in mind the theme of the anthology. Overall, it’s a good collection of stories – all may not be straight retellings but a mixture of tales and anybody who enjoys them would find this book to be good. I particularly loved the introduction before each story, in which each author told the story behind the story, the inspiration as well as what they wanted to tell.

Received a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

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