I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
The latest novel in acclaimed author Liz Braswell’s TWISTED TALE series hones in on the infamous story of Rapunzel from Disney’s Tangled, but flips the script when Rapunzel’s mother is given the wrong flower to heal her during birth, and Rapunzel is born with silver hair as white as the moon and given destructive power instead in the latest book in the series, “What Once Was Mine”.
The 12th installment in the New York Times best-selling series asks: What if Rapunzel’s mother drank a potion from the wrong flower?
Desperate to save the life of their queen and her unborn child, the good people of Corona search for the all-healing Sundrop flower to cure her—but mistakenly acquire the shimmering Moondrop flower instead. Nonetheless it heals the queen, and she delivers a healthy baby girl with hair as silver and gray as the moon. With it comes dangerous magical powers: the power to hurt, not heal. For her safety and the safety of the kingdom, Rapunzel is locked in a tower and put under the care of powerful goodwife, Mother Gothel.
For eighteen years Rapunzel stays locked away, knowing she must protect others from her magical hair. But when she leaves the only home she’s ever known, wanting only to see the floating lights that appear on her birthday, she gets caught up in an adventure across the kingdom with two thieves—a young woman named Gina, and Flynn Rider, a rogue on the run. Before she can reach her happy ending, Rapunzel learns that there may be more to her story, and her magical tresses, than she ever knew.
What a fun and truly entertaining take on the classic story of Rapunzel and the Disney version in the film Tangled! Truly, the story does a great job of laying the groundwork for this retelling by introducing a brother whose sister is in the hospital being treated for cancer and decides to retell her the story of her favorite movie while adding his own twists on it to help keep her mind occupied. This really added a personal and human element to this fantasy retelling, especially when readers learn of this story point’s origin in the author’s afterward.
The haunting, atmospheric tone that the author lays down in the tale of Rapunzel is great to see unfold. The inclusion of magic and witchcraft into the narrative to explore this twist on her origins was great to see unfold. Yet it was the characters that really sold this story, from the inclusion of characters like Countess Bathory, a new villain based on the historical figure to be included alongside Mother Gothel, to Gina, whose strength and partnership with Flynn give them both a stronger voice in the narrative overall.
Yet it was Rapunzel and Gothel who stole the show. The protagonist’s knowledge of her origins (up to a point), and her desire to keep others safe was a unique twist on her character, as was her complex and emotional relationship with her “mother”. Gothel’s manipulations and selfishness took up all-new levels in this retelling, and the action-packed final confrontation these two had in the midst of a shockingly larger confrontation was powerful for the story Tangled began all those years ago.
A haunting, magical, and engaging dark fantasy take on this Disney classic, author Liz Braswell’s “What Once Was Mine” is a brilliant story and one of the year’s top contenders for the fantasy novel of 2021. A gripping tale of magic gone wrong, betrayal, and the bonds between mothers and their daughters, the addition of a more grounded narrator and a rich tapestry of mythology from beyond Disney’s typical storytelling background made this story shine brightly. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this incredible book today!
About the Author
After the sort of introverted childhood you would expect from a writer, Liz earned a degree in Egyptology at Brown University and then promptly spent the next ten years producing video games. Finally she caved into fate and wrote Snow and Rx under the name Tracy Lynn, followed by The Nine Lives of Chloe King series under her real name, because by then the assassins hunting her were all dead. She also has short stories in Geektastic and Who Done It and a new series of reimagined fairy tales coming out, starting with A Whole New World—a retelling of Aladdin.
She lives in Brooklyn with a husband, two children, a cat, a part-time dog, three fish and five coffee trees she insists will start producing beans any day. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.