Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell is a book from Disney’s Twisted Tales Series, where reader are given alternative versions of classic Disney stories by having What if questions. For Once Upon a Dream the what if scenario is, What if Sleeping Beauty never woke up? This scenario really hooked me, to get this book for my girlfriend, which Sleeping Beauty is her favorite story, and she let me read it after her. I was excited that it was actually Disney doing it. This is a YA book and it went over a lot of things I didn’t see the book tackling, like depression, arranged marriage, love at first site, female empowerment and self harm. This novel did throw me at first having a new background for Sleeping Beauty, but there is a reason, and I was satisfied with the reason, it does take a hundred pages to get there, though which I found was a bit too long. I manages to put some ideas about Maleficent, the movie, into the book about her character and explore some of those avenues of good and evil. The title come from the song that is sung in the movie Sleeping Beauty and covered in Maleficent by Lana Del Rey
The Plot: Princess Aurora has always lived in the castle, her parents wanted a boy so they could broker more land in a wedding. The fairies comes to the birth and offer gift of Beauty and song to Aurora and Merriweather offer her parents every wish they desire but they get Aurora when she turns 16. Maleficent prophecy is that when Aurora reaches 16 goodness will be restored on this wicked kingdom. We see Prince Phillip try to kiss Aurora and instead of wake her up he falls asleep thinking why didn’t I check to make sure she was dead. Aurora has been trapped in the castle since she was little Maleficent put thorns up all over the castle protecting them from an ongoing apocalypse going on on the outside, thanks to her parents greed. Maleficent punishes a man or drunkenness and saying he has been outside and survived. Aurora doesn’t believe this until she finds a feather for a bird that is not trapped with them in the castle, and the drunken man has not been seen again. She begins questioning the truth, and she’s horrified when she finds out what Maleficent has been hiding from her all along, is she a savior or something more.
What I Liked: The way things are revealed to the reader is really clever. There is one big twist that I really enjoyed. I liked that the book explored real life issues, and did it in a real way not a storybook way. Aurora is a strong character that does not need a man saving her. I loved the character of Hubert, Prince Phillips dad, and the reveals of that character. I liked the action the climax was almost too much but I did enjoy that the fight had real stakes and death at hand. I liked Maleficent’s overall plan for Aurora.
What I Disliked: This book could have been really good but it fell into cliches of people being demons, thank goodness not every person is, but when characters go it’s probably another demon, you have a problem, and it was too frequently. The chapters were way too long there sometimes good length then they will be fifty pages.
Recommendations: I have two teenage cousins that would absolutely love this book, as an adult I read 10 YA books a year, I like what was explored but the over all story had too many repetitions for me to whole heartedly recommend. I was torn by this review Liz Braswell has written two more in the Twisted Tale series and one is about Aladdin my favorite, with what if Aladdin had never found the lamp. I rated this book 3 out of 5 stars but I will give Liz Braswell another shot.