Aug 30, 2021

ARC Review--What Once Was Mine by Liz Braswell


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.


I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I was in no way compensated for this review. 

Disney-Hyperion's line of Twisted Tales is a series not to be missed by the avid Disney fan! What if your favorite Disney movie had something one very important detail turned on its head? That's what each Twisted Tale asks, and in Liz Braswell's What Once Was Mine, she questions what if Rapunzel's mother "ate" the wrong flower? And that is exactly what this story will dive into!

Firstly, I have to say that I was a bit thrown when the story opened up to a hospital scene, after reading the author's note at the end of the book, it makes sense, but having read a few Twisted Tales already and seeing them basically play out in the way of its movie but with its added twist...this one threw me a bit. We see a teenage boy reading to his sister who is in the hospital doing chemo treatments. Though she is far from being "little" she's still a fan of Disney movies, Tangled in particular, so after watching the movie for the upteenth time, she asks her brother to read the book version to her. He does, but decides he's going to mix things up a bit for her, just to give her a new version of her favorite movie.

Then the story actually begins from there, with the occasional reminder that the story is being "read to us" by a narrator of sorts. It was very The Princess Bride (movie version, where the grandfather reads to the grandson and there's the occasional interruption) and I have to say, once I got used to, I rather liked thinking of it that way.

Anyway, when the story begins we see that once Rapunzel is born, she has silvery hair that resembles the moon. But instead of her hair having the power to heal, it's the opposite. Rapunzel unknowingly kills her wet nurse as a baby and it's with a heavy heart that her parents agree to set her up in a tower, to be cared for by the goodwife, Gothel. Gothel is much of the same character as before, she has her secret Sundrop flower hidden away that she uses to keep herself eternally young and she's incredibly vain and selfish and just plans to use Rapunzel for her own gains. Like literally selling her to the highest bidder of a bunch of evil villains...among them the Countess of Bathory! Yeah, the brother gets a little extravagant here!

Rapunzel is turning 19 and wants nothing more than to see the floating lights. So one day she decides to leave her tower and see them. She decides to track down the young man she saw hide something outside her tower recently and use the object he stashed away as a bargaining trip. Along the way, she meets Gina, a young girl who longs to see the world just like Rapunzel and to be a rich and famous thief as she does it. It's not long before the trio is on the road to see the lights to suddenly be on the run from all the villains who are out to get Rapunzel. Along the way, Rapunzel is making her usual friends and learning more about the powers her hair has and we the reader learn just how different they are from her "movie" powers.

I have to say, one thing that truly upset me in this one was the lack of Maximus. Maximus was my favorite character from the movie. He had such personality! The sister even questions her brother on this, as Max is briefly mentioned early on in such a way, but then he's not seen again. We eventually see the Pascal we all know and love, but it will be pages more until we get the answer of Maximus, as the brother promises his sister. So yes, utter disappointment that Max wasn't in the majority of the story, but the answer to his whereabouts was an interesting one, I will give Liz that!

Despite being pretty different from the previous Twisted Tales I've read in its presentation, I have to say it was still rather enjoyable! Though I do wish we could've known more about Mother Gothel's outcome. It's merely told and not seen, so it wasn't as satisfying as it was in the movie. And since the dramatic change happens at the beginning of the story, you really don't know what's going to happen at any point. Being a Disney tale, you know a Happily Ever After is pretty much guaranteed and this one does not disappoint.

I honestly loved the inclusion of Bathory! It was an odd choice in some sense, because you know, a real historical character popping up in a Disney story was a little odd. Especially the vampire queen herself...or so the rumors say! And this was the true Bathory of history as well, her story was much the same as we know it.

Watching Rapunzel and Flynn aka Eugene as I prefer to call him, fall in love again was just sweet. Though with the third party, Gina, involved, you wonder how things will go. There's definitely no love triangle possibilities, so that was nice. Gina was kind of like a human version of Maximus as she and Eugene were usually at odds more than being friendly with one another! Lol. Rapunzel and Eugene slowly--albeit, quickly in normal terms--fall in love just as always and it was just as sweet as before.

The ending of course was happy! It was a nice sweet ending to a beloved favorite. There were certainly some interesting twists along the way, but most were happy and enjoyable ones. The author's note at the end definitely explained the sudden departure from the usual way of Twisted Tale storytelling and was nice in essence, but I wonder if the note should've gone at the beginning to perhaps better prepare readers for the new "twist." It threw me a little, but I was eventually able to move past it. That and the lack of my favorite horse were perhaps the only things that were off-putting about this story. Other than that, I positively adore it! Tangled was such a good movie and I was eager to see how Twisted Tales would handle it. It doesn't disappoint that's for sure! Every Disney movie fan should be reading this series, because it's pretty much full of awesomeness!

What Once Was Mine presents a very imposing question, what if Rapunzel's mother ate the wrong different would the Rapunzel we all know and love be? Rapunzel is still written true to heart and is the same girl we all love, just with a different hair color! Fans of Tangled will be enchanted by this Twisted Tale and be swept back away to the kingdom of Corona and all its magnificent adventures!


Overall Rating 4/5 stars



What Once Was Mine releases September 7, 2021






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