Author: Liz Braswell
What if the sleeping beauty never woke up?
It should be simple–a dragon defeated, a slumbering princess in a castle, a prince poised to wake her. But when the prince falls asleep as his lips touch the fair maiden’s, it is clear that this fairy tale is far from over.
With a desperate fairy’s last curse controlling her mind, Princess Aurora must escape from a different castle of thorns and navigate a dangerously magical landscape–created from her very own dreams. Aurora isn’t alone–a charming prince is eager to join her quest, and old friends offer their help. But as Maleficent’s agents follow her every move, Aurora struggles to discover who her true allies are and, moreover, who she truly is. Time is running out. Will the sleeping beauty be able to wake herself up?
Once Upon a Dream is the second novel in the standalone Twisted Tales series. In this story, the author twists the story of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty where Prince Phillip ends up asleep after kissing her. This is the opening chapter of the novel before the main story begins following Aurora when she is younger. Maleficent rescues Aurora from her destructive parents and ends up as Queen. She “adopts” Aurora as her aunt and raises her in the castle. When Aurora begins to get glimpses of another life in her mind, she begins to question what is real and what only exists in her mind.
The concept of the story is interesting as the reader not only gets a deeper exploration into Aurora as a character, but it is unique where the story mixes Aurora’s reality and dream worlds. The structure of the novel does get confusing in some moments as there are chapters throughout where the setting is in the real world and others where it is the dream world. As Philip is in Aurora’s dream, he can remember her, but she has no memory of him. This made an interesting dynamic as the two of them try to connect again to their HEA. As Philip remembers them falling in love at first sight, Aurora is interested in getting to know each other more. It made for an interesting take on the original Disney story as the two only met for an extremely short period of time before deciding they were meant to be.
Overall, this novel was not bad, but it was not quite there to make it a hit for me. The book takes a bit to get started as Aurora is living in the castle with Maleficent. She does not even meet Phillip until a quarter (or so) of the way through, which is when the story really starts to move forward. For me, I would rather have this part of the story expanded and reduced to the beginning. Both Aurora and Philip share some cute banter, but their dialogue skews toward childish. The two of them had a lot of potentials to become complex, but I felt that the story fell short for both of them. The ideas were there, but it was missing something in the execution to really connect with me as a reader. I think some expansion in some parts and some reduction in others could have helped the pacing. It was an interesting story to try as I enjoyed the Disney version, but it just was not fully for me.