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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Once Upon an Autumn Eve by Dennis L. McKiernan

Once Upon an Autumn Eve by Dennis L. McKiernan. New York: Roc, 2006. ISBN: 0-451-46069-3

This is the third in McKiernan's series of seasonal fairy tale-inspired stories. It follows in the footsteps of Once Upon a Winter's Night and Once Upon a Summer Day, and is followed by Once Upon a Spring Morn, which I have yet to read and comment upon. Have you noticed how the times of day so neatly correspond with the seasons? Winter and night; summer and day; autumn and evening; springtime and morning. Cute.

If this kind of adult faery tale is your cup of tea, then you'll definitely want to read this one. It's just as good as its predecessors. Liaze, the Princess of the Autumnwood, is our current heroine. Once again (by which I mean, just as in the two previous volumes), she (like her siblings) is ripped away from her lover by one of the four evil witches, acolytes to the evil wizard, Orbane, who has been banished from faery by Liaze's parents.

Once again, Liaze must go on a solitary quest, though eventually joined by worthy if diminutive companions, aided by a rede (poetic prophecy) from Lady Skuld, also known as Lady Wyrd, one of the Fates. Once again there is but a limited time in which to complete the quest and rescue her betrothed knight, the lusty Luc, and many the trials and riddles to endure and solve ere the inevitable happy ending.

In his “Foreword,” McKiernan expresses the fervent hope that this story will hold us (his readers) enthralled. I'm sorry. The first one did, I think. The second one almost did. But by now, the story is becoming just a bit too pat, too predictable, and the overwhelming “niceness” of it all is becoming just a bit too sweet, too much. Yes, I still thoroughly enjoyed the story, and it's just as well-written as the others, but too much of a good thing can still be just that, too much. I probably would have enjoyed it more had I waited a year or two before reading it, so that my sense and remembrance of the previous stories had dulled just a bit. So I don't think I'll be in any big hurry to pick up the fourth volume. Yes, I do want to read it eventually, but not just yet. I need to get the sweet taste out of my mouth first. Recommended, if somewhat gingerly.

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