Review 208. Paula Guran – OUAT: New fairy tales.

17864396Title: Once upon a time, new fairy tales.
Author: Paula Guran.
Pages: 384.
Published: October 2nd 2013 by Prime Books.
Sort: Anthology.
Source: Netgalley & Publisher.
Eighteen extraordinary authors devise all-new fairy tales: imaginative reinterpretations of the familiar, evocative new myths, speculations beyond the traditional realm of "once upon a time." Often dark, occasionally humorous, always enthralling, these stories find a certain Puss in a near-future New York, an empress bargaining with a dragon, a princess turned into a raven, a king's dancing daughters with powerful secrets, great heroism, terrible villainy, sparks of mischief, and a great deal more. Brilliant dreams and dazzling nightmares with meaning for today and tomorrow.

I’m not a huge fan of anthologies, but this one features fairy tales and I thought: you can’t go wrong with that. Obviously, you can.. There were more stories I enjoyed than hated, but most of them were just enjoyable with the potential of being great. I’m going to point out the highlights and the ones I dislike, because reviewing them all would make this review too long.

Good stories:
Sleeping beauty of Elista.
The blend of the original tale with the modern world was subtle. It didn’t clashed with the charm of a fairy tale, but it created something original. It’s about vaccinations and how one girl ended up in a never-ending sleep.

This book is how a fairy tale is supposed to be. It already starts with a great fairytalish line. It’s about a bad mother and a lovely girl who needs to find herself to break free.

The spinning wheel’s tale.
Very interesting POV! It gives a complete other spin to the Sleeping beauty tale.

Warrior dreams.
I liked that this story was based on sacrifice. It’s not about romance and finding your true love, but it’s about sacrificing your life to protect others.

Castle of masks.
This is by far my favorite story. It vaguely reminds me of Beauty and the beast (and I swear, it’s not because of that) It’s well-written and clever. It’s about a boy who sacrifices himself to the beast by dressing up as a girl. He wants to find revenge for his sister who went the year before, but instead of a monster, he finds a friend. A friend he still needs to kill.. I didn’t saw the twist coming.

I always like tales where the hero is portrayed like a total loser. The boy here is called ‘Idiot’, but people are not able to see his potential. I loved seeing him develop into the boy he truly is.

Bad stories:
The lenten rose.
This is a retelling of The snow queen, but it was just so slow and boring. I never felt engaged in the story and there was something off about the writing-style. It’s a shame, because this was one of the longer retellings.

Tales that fairies tell.
I have no idea what this story is about, because I skipped it. From the first page I knew this wasn’t going to work for me. I believe it’s supposed to be about Puss in boots who tells a story and it’s a strange blend with chick-lit.

The road of needles.
Weird story. I started to skim and I still don’t know what this was supposed to be.. Something with red riding hood, but it was weird.

The hush of feathers.
I like the idea of the author, but it didn’t work for me. I felt unsatisfied at the end and it was hard to get into the story.

The mirror tells all.
I guess it was the POV, but I also had troubles with the writing-style. It felt a bit choppy.

If you are a hardcore fairytale fan like me it’s definitely interesting enough to read it once, otherwise: skip it.


  1. Not a fan of anthologies myself so this book's not on my radar at all. It does sound interesting but I feel it might not satisfy at all.

    Great review, Mel.

  2. I'm a huge fan of anthologies! LOL I don't think I've read one with fairy tale retellings...I might have one somewhere on my shelves though. Yeah I'll stay away from this one. I tend to stick to ones with a few authors I know appearing in it.

    1. I am familiar with some of those authors, but it just wasn't successful.

  3. I don't usually read anthologies but this one sounds interesting! I'm glad to see that you enjoyed a couple of stories but it's also kinda sad to see that you didn't enjoy a couple of them either. Great review :)

    1. Yes, but that's always the case with the anthologies I read. I'm still trying to find one I truly love.

  4. Aw, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this. I haven't really read any anthologies, but I'm going to soon :) Not this one, though. Thank you for sharing and being honest about your thoughts. <3

  5. I've never read an anthology before but I would get pretty irriated because I like stories to go for long spanses of time.

    Great review(s)! <33

    1. Yeah, anthologies aren't really my thing either, but hey: fairytales! Couldn't resist, haha.

  6. Oh, this sounds really disappointing! I don't like anthologies either, so I probably wouldn't have checked this out even if you had given it a really high rating. I'm glad that some of the short stories were enjoyable for you -- that should have made this a more bearable read, I hope! O_O Haha, I saw CASTLE OF MASKS and was immediately sold. It sounds so disturbing and complicated at the same time... I can see why you'd like it, Mel.

    As for the rest, their titles don't sound half as interesting as CASTLE OF MASKS or THE SPINNING WHEEL'S TALE, so I'm not that surprised they ended up under your bad stories list. :P

    1. Yes, it would have been even less enjoyable if I'd hated every story :p Castle of masks is also a story I could see told in a book. It had a great storyline.

  7. I don't read many anthologies and I'm certainly not going to pick this one up! It looks like a major disappointment with a pretty cover. I really like fairytale retellings and Castle of Masks looks interesting, love twists that are unpredictable!
    Great review Mel!
    ~Tilly @ Hardcore Heroines

  8. I don't really care for books like these because I always end up not enjoying a lot of the stories. I'll enjoy some, but others fall flat. Great short reviews :)

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

  9. I was so excited when I saw you were reviewing this one, so now I'm sad you didn't enjoy it that much. :(

  10. I don't think I've ever read an anthology, but I'll steer clear of this one if I ever do. I didn't think you could go wrong with fairytales either! Darn, wish this one was better for you, Mel!

  11. Sorry this one didn't work out that well! I had this on my TBR list, though, so maybe I'll check out the stories in it that you said were good! :) Great review, as always! :)

    Alice @ Alice in Readerland

  12. I mostly enjoyed this collection but I really agree about Tales That Fairies Tell-that story was just horrid.

    1. I still don't know why they thought it was a good idea to write it that way..


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