Fairy Tale Book Review: Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell

Once Upon a Dream (A Twisted Tale, #2)Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was similar in quality to “A Whole New World,” but because I don’t have the same abiding affection for Sleeping Beauty, it did not get the same (perhaps unwarranted) rating inflation.

It reminds me a bit of “Sleeping Beauty” meets “Alice in Wonderland.” Most of the story takes place in a dream world which gets pretty dark in places, which is sort of this series’ “shtick.” I was impressed by how well Braswell fleshed out the various characters from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, considering most of them are pretty flat in the original. I could really “picture” her versions of Prince Phillip, Maleficent, King Hubert, Maleficent’s minions, the good fairies, etc. The one place where it fell a little short was her characterization of Aurora (or Aurora Rose, as she calls herself, to encompass both her identities). It was hard for me to picture the Aurora from the movie doing and saying all the things she does in this book because she really is such a “blank slate” as a Disney princess, virtually without personality, so the character in this book feels like someone new I had to get to know as a reader rather than a new take on someone I already loved. This was somewhat jarring, since she is the central character. However, I really liked the way that Braswell interpreted even this “lack of personality” so that it made sense in Aurora’s circumstances, and especially her reasons for touching the spinning wheel, adding a depth to the original character that was never there before and casting her in a whole new light.

The book is also a bit meta in that it uses the dream setting as an opportunity to critique the original tenets of the Sleeping Beauty story (love at first sight, a curse laid upon a baby, etc.) At times the story did get a little tedious, but it was still an interesting enough “take” that I’ll continue to explore this series.

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