I like fairy tale retellings because it’s always interesting how an author can take a well-known story and make it her own. A few years ago, I discovered Simon & Schuster’s Once Upon a Time, which is a series of fairy tale retellings. I think I have most of the books in the series because I collected them before reading them. I stopped collecting after reading the books because I was disappointed. I’ll post what I wrote in Goodreads about two books from the series that a friend gave me recently.
Belle: A Retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” by Cameron Dokey
Belle is convinced she has the wrong name, as she lacks her sisters’ awe-inspiring beauty. So she withdraws from society, devoting her time to wood carving. Secretly, Belle longs to find the fabled Heartwood Tree. If carved by the right hands, the Heartwood will reveal the face of one’s true love.
During a fierce storm, Belle’s father stumbles upon the mysterious Heartwood – and encounters a terrifying and lonely Beast. Now Belle must carve the Heartwood to save her father, and learn to see not with the eyes of her mind, but with the eyes of her heart.
I love fairy tale retellings and Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale so I’m always curious about retellings about it. I’ve read most of the books in the Once Upon a Time series but I felt like they weren’t really for me. I don’t know why, maybe because they were trying to keep the books short, I felt like that stories weren’t fully developed. The same was true for this one.
The beginning reminded me of Robin McKinley’s Beauty I love fairy tale retellings and Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale so I’m always curious about retellings about it. I’ve read most of the books in the Once Upon a Time series but I felt like they weren’t really for me. I don’t know why, maybe because they were trying to keep the books short, I felt like that stories weren’t fully developed. The same was true for this one.
Cameron Dokey deviated from the usual story by coming up with the Heartwood Tree. Instead of a rose, Belle’s father took home a branch from the Heartwood Tree. Overall, the book was just okay for me. I would’ve probably liked it better if the story was more developed. I didn’t really feel that the Beast and Belle connected during the short time that they were together.
The Wild Orchid: A Retelling of “The Ballad of Mulan” by Cameron Dokey
Wielding a sword as deftly as an embroidery needle, Mulan is unlike any other girl in China. When the emperor summons a great army, each family must send a male to fight. Tomboyish Mulan is determined to spare her aging father and bring her family honor, so she disguises herself and answers the call. But Mulan never expects to find a friend, let alone a soul mate, in the commander of her division, Prince Jian. For all of Mulan’s courage with a bow and arrow, is she brave enough to share her true identity and feelings with Prince Jian?
I enjoyed reading a book about Mulan because I only know her story because of the Disney movie, which I really liked because I love warrior women. I really like the beginning of this book but my usual complaint with the Once Upon a Time series still stands, I think it would’ve been better to add more meat to the bones. I felt like the latter part of the book wasn’t fully developed. The events felt too abrupt. It’s still a light and fun read for those who’re interested in Mulan and those who just enjoy retellings in general.