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Review: Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales

In this collection of stories, six authors have put their own historical spin on classic fairytales. It begins with The Mountain of the Wolf, a western take on Little Red Riding Hood. This is followed by She But Sleepeth, a Sleeping Beauty story that begins as a contemporary, but is morphed into a tale of royalty in the late 1800s. The third story is Rumpled, a Beauty and the Beast inspired story with a steampunk twist. Fourth in line is a Little Match Girl tale set during WWII titled Sweet Remembrance. The fifth story in this collection is Death Be Not Proud, which takes place in New Zealand during the roaring 20s. And the final story is With Blossoms Gold, a 16th Century inspired Rapunzel.

I’m always surprised by fairytale retellings and how imaginative writers can get with these classic stories. In Once, all of the authors took these classic fairytales and put such neat historical twists on them. There’s a diverse range of history covered in this collection and I never would have expected to see these stories told in the ways they were.

The Mountain of the Wolf was maybe just a tad slow for me, but I still found it well written and appreciated the unique twist on Little Red Riding Hood.

She But Sleepeth was a neat story, and the most unique in this collection as it is partially contemporary. It was full of sass and wit, but was also very heartfelt. It has a terribly sad ending, but the story ended in a very realistic way.

I really liked Rumpled; this was the first steampunk story I’ve ever read, and I found that I liked the style. Also, Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairytales, so that made me enjoy it even more.

Sweet Remembrance was perhaps my favorite in this collection. It is such a sad story, as most accounts of WWII are, but it is so beautifully written. I was rooting for Kasia and Romeck, and although it wasn’t a happy ending in the traditional sense, it had, perhaps, one of the happiest endings of all in that it reminds us of the ultimate hope.

I must admit, as I read Death Be Not Proud, I didn’t understand what fairytale it was modeled after. I still thought it was a good story, particularly given its 1920s setting. I liked the mystery aspect of the story that kept me guessing as I read it.

With Blossoms Gold was a sweet story with tinges of sadness. I felt sorry for Nella as she struggled with leaving the tower, but was ultimately happy with the ending.

All in all, Once was a neat collection of historically inspired fairytales. Anyone that loves historical fiction will enjoy this book, and fans of fairytale retellings will love it, as well.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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