I wasn’t expecting much from Once Upon A Dream by Liz Braswell. I didn’t care for her take off on Aladdin in A Whole New World, and Disney published both books, and they are marked YA. Still I had a 5th borrow available from Hoopla, was sick and Dream sounded OK, so why not?
Let’s be clear. Once Upon A Dream is not stellar fiction for adults and it’s not going to go on teachers’ lists of books their students must read. Once Upon A Dream is basically a fast, easy read that is pretty entertaining. Don’t pick it up if you are hungry for deep thoughts but do read it if you are in the mood for a light story with some engaging characters and interesting plot lines about reality and dreaming.
Once Upon A Dream retells the original Sleeping Beauty story and Disney movie with a twist. The princess does not wake up and the prince falls asleep. In Dream, Maleficent tells Aurora that her parents destroyed the country and everything surrounding it, and that Maleficent protected the people and castle behind the rose briars. Of course this is not true.
Aurora must struggle to wake up; each time she thinks she is awake she realizes that in fact she is not. In this book she meets Prince Phillip in the woods who travels with her and works to confound the enchantment.
Don’t look for depth and you’ll be fine. Braswell portrays Aurora and Phillip as basically what teens think happens when you fall in love, with plenty of drama and not much common sense. Both have more screen time in this retelling than in the movie but are still rather flat, 2-dimensional. Aurora does get one good lick in when she tells off Maleficent for cursing a baby just because she felt slighted. Note that Aurora complains about what Maleficent did to her, not what she did to the kingdom.
Braawell changes the three good fairies the most. In her retelling we don’t see much to admire: They are weak, foolish, manipulative. I thought the sections with the three fairies were the weakest.
Once Upon A Dream was a pleasant way to spend a couple days while I recovered from an illness. I wouldn’t seek out more of Braswell’s books, but if I have a free borrow available again and don’t feel good enough to think, well, why not?