Aug 29, 2015

ARC Review--Dead Upon a Time by Elizabeth Paulson

It's a fairy-tale nightmare...

One girl is kept in a room where every day the only food she's given is a poisoned apple. Another is kept in a room covered in needles -- and if she pricks her finger, she'll die. Then there are the brother and sister kept in a cell that keeps getting hotter and hotter...

A sinister kidnapper is on the loose in Kate's world. She's not involved until one day she heads to her grandmother's house in the woods -- and finds her grandmother has also been taken. Already an outcast, Kate can't get any help from the villagers who hate her. Only Jack, another outsider, will listen to what's happened.

Then a princess is taken, and suddenly the king is paying attention -- even though the girl's stepmother would rather he didn't. It's up to Kate and Jack to track down the victims before an ever after arrives that's far from happy.

I received this ARC from Rockstar Book Tours for participation in the blog tour, for an honest review, I was in no way compensated for this review.

Dead Upon a Time is the perfect read for fairy tale fans of all ages! Elizabeth Paulson writes in a way that the book itself feels like a fresh new fairy tale. While there is still danger and action, it's done in a way that it's not overly graphic, so this the perfect read for younger readers who starting out their YA reading life, at least I thought so. Being familiar with the old, classic fairy tales of Grimm, doesn't hurt either, as we know most of those were dark.

The story starts out like Little Red Riding Hood, when Kate Hood goes to into the woods to bring her grandmother some food. Her grandmother is sort of an outcast from the village and thus lives outside it. Though what Kate finds is an empty cottage in shambles, plus a few mystery looking tapestries that depict horrifying scenes of torture. And by that I mean, they are scenes straight from the fairy tales we grew up with.

Scared and frightened, Kate returns to town looking for help, but alas, no one will help her. Except for one. Jack. Jack was once her childhood friend, but now, he too is an outcast after the whole matter with the giant that pretty much turned the town against him. Now with his help, they're off to figure out the clues and find her grandmother. But it's not long before the king gets involved when his daughter Ella becomes one of the missing as well.

This was a rather fast read being just over 200 pages and yet, I wished for more! The pacing was rather typical of an adventure/fairy tale. It moves forward at a steady pace, but builds up the anticipation. What I also wished we could've had was a bit more detailed answers. There's high suspicion placed on the new queen, the stepmother of Ella when Kate and Jack are taken to him. And yet, nothing ever really came out of it. I would've liked to known more. Kate started building her suspicions and speculations, but that was it. Once we left the castle to continue the journey, that was the end of seeing the "wicked stepmother".

What I also wished we had more of was romance. There wasn't much. You could tell there might be something between Kate and Jack, they were friends once in their childhood. But alas, that too, never really makes it to the page. The lack of romance kind of robs the story of its fairy tale-ness. For even in Grimm fairy tales, there was always a happily ever after with some prince or princess. But sadly, not here.

The ending though was quite exciting! If a bit surprising. I liked the twist in details and such, but also felt a little bombarded by it. There wasn't any clue or hint as to who the evil villain was and once they were revealed, it was just kind of like ta da! Instead of dun dun dun!

Despite those few minor hangups, I still enjoyed the story. It was a cute sort of read. I liked the mishmash of fairy tales, that weren't meant to be fairy tales. The torturing the villain did, just happened to resemble fairy tales we know, but in this world that's set in some far distant past, didn't have fairy tales basically. 

The setting was another thing that nagged at me in the beginning. There was no clear cut way of it. At times, it almost felt like it could be modern times. Some of the vernacular felt a bit too modern, but I could've just been making myself feel that way. Since this read itself isn't meant to be a fairy tale, I guess I was making myself think it should read like one because it has traces of fairy tales in it! Yes, I'm very convoluted at times in my reading! LOL!

Dead Upon a Time was a fun read! I enjoyed it for the most part! I wouldn't mind there being more to the story though! Readers always want more after all. As far as I can tell, this is a standalone, things wrapped up nice. But again, I wouldn't mind seeing more in this world!

Overall Rating 3.5/5 stars

Dead Upon a Time releases August 25, 2015


  1. 2015 Is definitely the year of the re-tellings! When I first seen this cover I knew I wanted it, but a few mixed reviews from blogger friends and other readers have me on the fence. I love how the author incorporates more than one fairy tale into the story, so we'll see how much I'll enjoy this one!

  2. Hmm, I've heard really bad things from this so far. This is actually the first positive review I've saw for it! I really like that it's not really a retelling and that there are lots of fairytale characters! I also really like the cover :) Awesome review, now I think I'll put it on my TBR.

  3. I do love retellings! I wanted to read this one, but I want romance mixed in :(


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