What do you think stories are for? -…- I think they’re a way for us to understand our own world. -…- I think I gave Henry the book just to give him what no one around here seems to have. A new feeling. The feeling of hope. (chapter 1)
If you watch Once Upon a Time or if you loved the series at one point or if you just want to read fairytales that are not quite what we remember from childhood, then I recommend Odette Beane’s Reawakened. I saw a conversation going on in a group a few months ago, when someone said that it would be wonderful to have OUAT turned into audiobooks. Well, this is a tiny first step.
Let me tell you, I did enjoy reading the novel, even if the show is better than it (it’s not often that we get to say that the film was better than the book, but I think I should have expected this). It’s basically season one… retold, in a way. The stories from the Enchanted Forest and from our world are intertwined, coming together in key points, as it happens on screen. Everything is presented from two perspectives: Snow White‘s (in Fairy Tale Land) and Emma Swan‘s (in Storybrooke). For those who don’t know, Emma is the Saviour and the daughter of Snow and Prince Charming. I love the fact that we have more access to Swan’s thoughts and feelings, but we lose too much from the other characters. Also, some episodes are not included in the book. The plot of Reawakened does not suffer because of this, but the development of most characters is lacking. This is why I consider the series to be better than its written sibling.
I don’t think that a summary is needed. But still… we have all these characters we grew up with, we have love, loss and a curse. They are brought into our world through said curse, but as mere shadows of their former selves. Who cast the curse? Regina, the Evil Queen. Why? Mostly out of revenge (on Snow White and pretty much every other living soul in that land). Who can break it? Emma, the child born out of true love. Writing this, I remember avoiding the show for over a year because the plot didn’t seem interesting enough. Word of advice: try it, it’s much better than any promo or general review could present it. Pay close attention to details and the motivation behind the action. They’re not always clear in Reawakened, so the story looks like a sketch more often than not. Even so, if you read the book first, I’m quite sure you’ll want to watch Once Upon a Time afterwards.
For me, the series came first, so I already knew what was going to happen and how it would end. Reawakened does come to fill little empty spaces and make the final image clearer. The actors were also on my mind while reading and… I truly miss some of them. They’re still on the show, but I prefer seeing them without the soap opera feel around everything. Back to the point, though. There’s a lot of emphasis on love and the importance of family. Through Henry (I love him!) we learn more not only about the characters and their true lives, but also about what makes a hero and a villain.
We don’t see much of Mr Gold/ Rumplestiltskin and that is a huge loss. Baelfire and Belle are also sent (too far) in the background and, even if I do understand why this happened, it was not the best of choices. There’s too little depth and complexity left behind. Still, since the focus is on the Charmings (Emma, Snow, David, Henry), I enjoyed following their story again. Oh, and I still hate the Blue Fairy. And Regina acts like a baby more often than not. A terrifying baby who enslaved a man and did everything she could to take away people’s happiness. There’s more to her character, but she plays the part of the villain and didn’t seem quite sympathetic to me. Rumplestiltskin does remain in the grey area; bits and pieces of his story are told by Henry, so it’s easier for the reader who hasn’t watched season one to realize that there are many layers to this character. To be fair, the same can be said about Regina, Emma, Snow and everybody else, even if their stories are fully presented or not. Even more, pay attention to the dynamics between certain characters (I’m thinking about Rumplestiltskin and Prince Charming right now), you won’t regret it.
Truth be told, my lovelies, the book has its flaws, but it’s still beautiful. It could have been longer, or maybe a series… but this is what we have for now. From the outside, through Emma, you feel that something is not quite right, that our world and the Fairy Tale Land don’t always come together in harmony. Not when it means losing one’s identity and happiness. But there’s still hope even through the darkness threatening so many lives. As it is said time and time again, true love can break any curse.
The ending is open, waiting for a part two. However, the journey is more important than this “the end”. Seeing all these characters, flawed and strong, searching for something they do not quite understand, witnessing magic and the price it demands, emphasising the fact that love can create or destroy everything… how can one not fall under the spell of such a tale?
Believe in yourself. That’s real magic. (The final chapter)
by Elena Atudosiei