Once Upon a Dream

It’s fair to say that most people have seen Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Sleeping Beauty wasn’t my favourite Disney princess movie, but I loved to watch the evil Maleficent, the silly fairies, and the beautiful Aurora. It seemed like a more delicate story than the other princesses, without the adventure that my sister and I craved in the movies we watched.

Once Upon a Time by Liz Braswell takes that delicate tale and turns it into an inception-loaded dream world that threatens Aurora’s life as she journeys through a strange world to save herself and her people from the curse placed over her kingdom. It alters the narrative of good and evil, blurring the lines that the characters stand on.

I know people have problems with this story, and this story takes that into consideration when twisting the tale. It characterizes Aurora beyond the simplicity of the animated movie, giving her a deeper personality. The True Love’s Kiss is not all that it’s cracked up to be. And most of all, you can’t fall in love at first sight with a stranger you meet in the woods. This story allows the reader to see that it takes more time and experience with a person in order to fall in love with them.

One of the larger themes is identity. Aurora grows up not knowing or understanding who she is. Though this story loosely follows the “hero’s quest”, it is a journey of self-discovery, self-understanding, and self-acceptance, while Aurora discovers many things about herself.

I love when fairy tale retellings have 3-dimensional princes and Phillip is a joy to read about. He brought a smile to my face while remaining fantastically heroic. Aurora proves to be just as heroic as Phillip, finding her own strengths to rely on.

I will definitely reread this book some time to understand more of the convoluted world and pay attention to the details that I’m sure I missed.

I highly recommend Once Upon a Dream for fans of Sleeping Beauty or Maleficent. This story gives so much more depth to the world and the characters. I would recommend this book for ages 13 and up.


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