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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Once Upon a Summer Day by Dennis L. McKiernan

Once Upon a Summer Day by Dennis L. McKiernan. New York: Roc, 2005. ISBN: 0-451-46012-X

Here's the second in McKiernan's fantasy series based on the retelling of traditional fairy tales for adult readers. This time, the story is a version of Sleeping Beauty, although I never would have recognized it for such, since much of the interaction between the hero and the princess, take place in their magically shared dreams.

From the first volume, Once Upon a Winter's Night, you will recall that four of the many realms in Faery are linked to the four seasons, each eternally locked in winter, summer, fall or spring. The first story revolved around the lord of winter. Now we move on to his brother, the lord of the summer wood. He dreams of a maiden in distress, locked in a tower, surrounded by swords, hanging in midair.

And he has only until the next full moon to save her from some dire peril. After being cursed by one of his family enemies, a witch of considerable powers, he finds himself in a dungeon, about to be roasted and eaten by ogres and goblins. Escaping by the skin of his teeth, and accompanied by a only small sprite and its faithful companion, a bumblebee, he begins a lengthy quest, full of adventures, as he attempts to locate the sleeping maiden, as they continue to spend time together, gradually falling in love in their intertwined dreams.

I must confess that I was not quite as enthralled this time, as I was with the first volume in the series. I'm not entirely sure why: perhaps the novelty of the concept is wearing off just a bit. And now we've had the tales of the two brothers, and what remain are the sisters, the ladies of autumn and spring. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to reading their tales, and will certainly report on each in its turn, here on Tillabooks. Strongly recommended for all adult fantasy fans of faery tales.

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