i usually avoid romeo and juliette…

These Violent Delights – Chloe Gong 

Retelling, Romeo and Juliet, the 1920s, shanghai, gang wars, young adult, fiction. 

Rating 9/10

Juliette returns to Shanghai to take over the gang, named Scarlets. However, what is noticed is this new mysterious pandemic of individuals clawing themselves to death. She suspects it’s the Russians. Roma suspects that it is the Scarlets. Roma goes to confront Juliette and realized that this is an actual monster. He proposes that the two works together and set aside their differences to find what is killing people. 

I usually don’t like to read any form of Romeo and Juliet. Yet alone to be caught dead reading a retelling. I always hated Shakespeare especially because of Romeo and Juliet. Anyways, this novel had kept popping up everywhere and was recommended to me. I found that I loved this novel. It had very thrilling writing and world-building as well as action with romance. There was serious tension between Roma and Juliette that felt surreal. I enjoyed this novel and found it immersive as well. The way the author transports the reader into the world was extraordinary.

another great disney twisted tales novel

What Once Was Mine – Liz Braswell 

Rapunzel, retelling, young adult, fiction. 

Rating 10/10

Rapunzel’s mother drank a potion to save her life and it was what they thought was the sundrop flower. When Rapunzel was born she had silver hair that was proven deadly. The King and Queen had to face a decision that all new parents would fear is giving up their child or sending their child away. The Queen made it her quest to find a caregiver for Rapunzel and found Mother Gothel who promised to care for Rapunzel. Mother Gothel had other plans that led to Rapunzel being afraid of her hair’s powers. Rapunzel asked Mother Gothel if she could leave the tower to see the floating lanterns that happen every year on a specific date that correlated to her birthday and was told a firm no. She can’t have Rapunzel kill another person like what she had done to her parents long ago. She asks her mother to go get her something and when the coast is clear Rapunzel leaves the tower out of curiosity of what this strange man left behind to find a crown of some sort. Rapunzel goes on a quest to find someone to take her to the floating lights and has a prize for whomever. She finds Flynn Rider and Gina, both outlaws in trouble, and agrees to help Rapunzel. Along the way Rapunzel finds out the truth about her origin and the reality of her origin. 

I’m a huge fan of Tangled and this twisted tale was by far the best presentation of the story being twisted. Rapunzel has magical hair that destroys or rather takes the life of whoever touches it. This blew my mind because I wasn’t expecting Gina to be included into the mix. Overall I enjoyed the characters in this form too. The plot was intriguing and kept me always on my toes. What I loved a lot about this novel was the way that it felt like The Princess Bride storytelling of someone sitting down and telling this story to someone young and in need of a good story. This story was being told by a man named Brendan to his twin sister Daniella who loves Tangled a lot and often requested to rewatch the movie. I nearly cried throughout this novel as well as laughing and going ‘aw’ a lot. This was utterly sweet and I highly recommend that one go get this novel to read. I couldn’t help but to savor this novel so I finished it within a week. I didn’t want to rush reading it because of how well it was written.

Phantom of the Opera meets Burlesque

Where Dreams Descend – Janella Angeles 

Young adult, retelling, burlesque, magic, shows, competition, mystery, fiction.

Rating 8/10

Kallia has been training and using her magic for basic tasks but she wants a challenge. Jack, her Master, doesn’t want her to leave where she resides even though he can’t really stop her from entering the competition for the Conquering Circus. She arrives at the audition when accidents and other people who are magicians go missing. Marco doesn’t like how Kallia is effortlessly skilled and tends to have chaotic control of her magic. This doesn’t stop her from wanting to compete. 

This was pretty good overall for a retellingish novel. I could tell it was inspired by Phantom of the Opera but this was fresh with a woman of color that added diversity and representation. I loved it. I loved the world that the author created and just wished that the pacing was a bit faster. It was slow at first and then it picked up some speed. The world building was excellently paced and enjoyed the characters. Can’t say more than that because otherwise it will spoil the good stuff.

… the angel of music…

Roseblood – A.G. Howard

Phantom of the Opera, retelling, classic, young adult, fiction.

Rating 8/10

Ever since Rune was old enough to sing, her voice has been so powerful, this overpowers her completely and leaves her incapacitated. Thorn and the Phantom had arranged for Rune to come to the French boarding school. To lure her to the Phantom and to her dark doom. As Rune arrived at the French boarding school, she does occasionally see Thorn but as a masked person. She has seen him in her dreams and wonders if he is her maestro. Someone who can help her control her singing talent. Thorn develops a love for Rune and must decide whether he should continue these feelings. He does not want to do his caretakers bidding. Rune needs to be careful with Thorn and at the academy. Otherwise history will repeat itself but in a more horrific way.

I was intrigued by this retelling and had to get it. Overall, the writing is amazing as well as the plot with the characters. I only wished that it were more fast paced. This was more exciting than the original, but others might disagree if one were to read this. I do recommend this novel if one were into the whole Phantom of the Opera book. This does sort of carry the same themes except its like another generation situation. Which was odd but I know it is a trope that is somewhat overused. In this case, it was alright in the end.

returning to land

Part of Your World – Liz Braswell

Disney, The Little Mermaid, witches, mermaids, retelling, mystery, young adult, fiction.

Rating 9.5/10

Five years gone since Ariel lost against Ursula. Both her voice and her father, King Triton, are in possession of Ursula due to the contact that Ariel had signed that allowed her three days to be on land but the catch was for that Prince Eric would have to kiss her before the sun sets on the third day and the payment for Ursula’s service was Ariel’s voice. When Ariel returned to the Sea, expecting to be punished, her sisters allowed her to be Queen of the Ocean. Her trusty sidekicks and confidants, Sebastian and Flounder, help Ariel speak to the people of Atlantica. When Ariel receives some news of a bird wanting to speak to Ariel, she investigates this. She finds out that after all this time, her father is in fact alive after all. Ariel must use whatever materials she has to try to save him and get her voice back.

I had put a hold on this book as well as the few others of these twisted tales because I wanted to see how this author really can use these Disney stories and add the twists to them. My thoughts on this book is that I felt that the author did a good job with this one as well as the other two I’ve read so far. I can’t wait to possible find more by this author or just the twisted tale series. I loved this book and this one is my second favorite. The first being Straight On Till Morning. The Little Mermaid was one of my favorite Disney stories and reading this twisted tale was enlightening and gave me thoughts about how if it went that way, would there be more movies, or a television stemmed from this concept? Either way I appreciate and love this novel a lot.

unsuspecting villains

As Old as Time – Liz Braswell

Disney, Beauty and the Beast, magic, mystery, retelling, Young adult, fiction.

Ratings 8/10

Maurice, father of Belle, has a story of how he came to meet Belle’s mother who was the Enchantress. They fled this one kingdom to protect their baby girl. The Enchantress has found out that the previous king and queen died, and she goes to see if their son is better than his parents. Disguised and ready to test the young prince, the Enchantress casts a spell so that her family doesn’t remember her and that she can flee without putting them in danger. The Enchantress tests the young boy and finds out he is just as despicable as his parents, casts a spell on him that he has until his twenty-first birthday to find someone who can love him as the monster he is or face an eternity stuck as a beast. Continuing the story through Belle’s narrative, she has come across this castle and strikes a deal with the Beast so that her father can be free, and she would be the prisoner of the Beast. Belle finds the rose and touches it, a flood of a memory surges through her. She remembers who her mother was as well as that she is alive. Belle and the Beast work together to figure this mystery out and how to break the curse of the Beast.

This dark retelling of the classic with the twist made me question a lot. At first, I was disappointed until I read the final third of the book. I was surprised by the dark turn it took but made sense with the plot. I was intrigued by the whole line of Disney’s Twisted Tales and one of my close friend’s family member wanted to know if they were any good and I thought this one would be a good one to start to read. I don’t regret picking this book up at all. However, I do not recommend to read these tales for anyone who is under the age of twelve years old. There is some adult situations that the little ones wouldn’t handle some of the scenes and descriptions. Overall, a great story and I would want to read more of these retellings.

A Darker Side of the Lost Boys

Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook – Christina Henry

Peter Pan, Never Ever Land, fantasy, horror, fiction, retelling

Rating 15/10

In this novel, it is a retelling of a classic childhood favorite but through the eyes of Captain Hook and his origins. Jamie was originally a lost boy that Peter Pan had rescued from the Other World. Peter Pan rescues these boys and whenever the boys start to age, they were cast off the island. Sometimes they survived to become pirates, some don’t survive at all. Whenever a boy would fall to illness and death, they were simply replaced. Peter Pan never ages, that is a fact here. Jamie slowly got tired of Peter Pan’s behaviors and decided to rebel against Peter after an incident that changed Jamie forever. He slowly started to grow up and Peter did not like that at all. So Peter cursed Jamie to be forever an adult and to remain on the island. Jamie was never meant to be the villain; it was Peter whom made Jamie the villain. Made Jamie into Captain Hook by cutting off his left hand as well as the whole curse.

I really enjoyed this novel so much. I had loved the idea of the other side of the fairy tale, no matter how dark it would be. This was just the right amount of horror I wanted as well. It is interesting to hear how the famous villain, Captain Hook, was originally was a lost boy. Made me sympathize with Jamie because Peter Pan kept bringing more and more boys onto the island and not really caring for these boys. Let them die of sickness or being killed and the sad part was that Jamie buried these boys that came and went. I would’ve done the same thing as Jamie did. Just give it all up, just grow up, and attempt to leave. I will for sure plan to reread this book in the future.