Friday, December 2, 2016

Book Review: Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales

Purchase HERE

Title: Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales

Author: Elisabeth Grace Foley // Rachel Heffington // J. Grace Pennington // Emily Ann Putzke // Suzannah Rowntree // Hayden Wand

Series: Standalone Novellas

Genre: Historical/Fairy Tale Retelling/Dystopian

Audience: Young Adult


Six fairytales you thought you knew, set against a tapestry of historical backgrounds.

A lonely girl plots revenge in the shadow of a mountain. A stolen princess fumbles a century backward. A dwarfish man crafts brilliant automatons. A Polish Jew strikes matches against the Nazis. A dead girl haunts a crystal lake. A terrified princess searches a labyrinth. A rich collection of six historically inspired retellings, Once is a new generation of fairytales for those who thought they'd heard the tales in all their forms.

Featuring the novellas of Elisabeth Grace Foley, Rachel Heffington, J Grace Pennington, Emily Ann Putzke, Suzannah Rowntree, and Hayden Wand.

**4 stars**

Take a look at that gorgeous cover! It’s divine! ^_^ Dive into this new collection of fairy tale retellings to find history, dystopian worlds, time-travel excitement, western danger, suspense, and of course, romance!


The Mountain of the Wolf by Elisabeth Grace Foley. A retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, this western historical tale was one I quite enjoyed. It’s non-magical, and set in the mountains were outlaws lurk and herds of wild horses roam free.
The writing style is akin to the style of the ANNE OF GREEN GABLES series; and while whimsical and old-fashioned, it can be slow and isn’t my favorite ever. That being said, The Mountain of the Wolf was still a great story, and I loved that ending—exciting and dangerous, and then utterly sweet. And the one part that really reminded me of the fairy tale it retells was fabulously-done!
A unique and lovely take on the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood.

She But Sleepeth by Rachel Heffington. I really like the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty, but I honestly didn’t care for this retelling of it. Two reasons: it was a tragedy, and the characters were too acquainted with spells for my personal liking. “Sorcery” and “witching” were words I saw too often, and not only when speaking of the evil villain.
It was an interesting retelling, weaving a new Sleeping Beauty tale with bits of real historical figures and accounts, and the intrigue of time-travel. I wasn’t left bored.
But yes, the magic was a bit much for my taste. And the tale had such a heavy air about it—such sorrow and this feeling of being trapped or helpless. I prefer a tale where good triumphs over evil.

Rumpled by J. Grace Pennington. So I really loved this tale! My kind of story—and definitely the best retelling of Rumplestiltskin that I’ve read! This is the first time I’ve read by this author, and I’m glad I did; I will look for more books by her, for sure.
Set in a dystopian, sci-fi world, Rumpled quickly sweeps us into the intrigue of rags to riches, and webs of deception and fear. A young woman is caught up into a crazy scheme, set into motion by her bumbling father. The most unlikely of people comes to the rescue. A love story unfolds.
I quite adored the grace that layered this story. There were times of danger and drama. Breathless, heart-clenching scenes were you wondered how everything could work out right. And the sweetest of moments. The characters were just lovely—I truly liked both Amanda and her man. And the servants. And … yes. Rumpled was perfectly perfect, and I look forward to loosing myself in another story by J. Grace Pennington.

Sweet Remembrance by Emily Ann Putzke. I remember The Little Match Girl being such a tragic tale, but somehow sweet—bittersweet. That’s how this WWII retelling of the story was. I don’t like tragedies, but if you’re going to write one, write it like Emily Ann Putzke did with Sweet Remembrance.
It was captivating. The history of the Jews being brutally persecuted by Germans is hard—the kind of hard where the enormity of it steals the breath from your lungs for a moment. The lost dreams so bitter. But the remembering of a heartfelt romance so sweet. All in all, it’s a sad tale of a horrific time in history … but it ends with a curious kind of hope. A hope that I want to hold onto.
Very well written. A bittersweet, heart-tugging story of an ordinary girl in a terrible time.

Death Be Not Proud by Suzannah Rowntree. This was sort of a chilling tale. But then, one would expect a retelling of Snow White to be, considering the fairy tale tells of evil and jealousy and would-be-murderers. I really enjoyed that it was set in the Jazz Age, and the mystery/suspense was exciting and all worth it once you got to the end of the story. If you don’t like a story that’s a little bit spooky and has a couple mentions of gruesome speculation, then Death Be Not Proud may not be the best read for you. But I found I liked it. I didn’t find the spooky parts too overdone, and regardless of the doom in the title, it is a good story.
With mystery keeping you on the edge of your seat, Suzannah Rowntree delivers a unique story, about a singer and a man on a mission, that kept me guessing and left me satisfied.

With Blossoms Gold by Hayden Wand. A sweet retelling of Rapunzel, though set amidst the bitterness of war and panic attacks. Though I sometimes got frustrated with Nella, one of the main characters of the story, I appreciated her character development and the authenticity of the tale.
The romance was lovely; and our hero a likable character indeed! Some of his witty remarks had me chuckling to myself.
Overall it was a fine, non-magical fairy tale retelling; set in Italy and examining difficult issues. I quite enjoyed.


Well, there you have it, my friends. On a whole, I was quite impressed with Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales. The stories were interesting, thoughtful, and different. The writing was very good.
Once isn’t exactly a light tome of fluffy fairy tales, but overall, it is a collection of superbly-written retellings. Check it out!

I received a copy of Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales from the authors.


  1. I ADORED Rumpled and Sweet Remembrance!! And oh my goodness, how I cried throughout Sweet Remembrance! I'm not a huge fan of tragedies either, but oh! That story was so incredible!! I actually had to pause my reading for a day or so to let it all sink in.


    1. Oh, they were so good, Liv! ^_^ Although, yes, definitely tears with Sweet Remembrance! :'( It was done in a very heart-touching way though.