Book Title:
Dead Upon A Time
Book Author:
Elizabeth Paulson
Publishing Date:
August 25, 2015
Publisher:
Scholastic
Date Read:
August 8, 2015

Synopsis

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.

My Review

“Over the river and through the woods, to a killer’s house we go.”

 

The synopsis and the blurb make this book sound like any fairy tale lover’s dream (or nightmare, in this case) come true, right?

Imagine that you’re a young girl, taking food to your grandmother, who lives alone in the woods.  Not only are you attacked by wolves on your journey, when you arrive at her cottage, you find her missing.  The only thing left behind are tapestries that she has woven, each depicting a frightening scene that, once you’ve seen it, you cannot unsee it (and some of them are horrifying).  In one of the tapestries, a little boy and girl are inside a room while the room continues to get hotter.  In another, a young woman longs to eat some of the delicious apples in front of her, but some of them are filled with poison.

When you run out into the village to find some help, you realize that, because of who your grandmother is (an Uncommon that no one wants around), no one will help you, and you are completely alone.  Or are you?  What about the town outcast, who has eluded authorities for over a year?  Maybe he can help.  So you set out on your journey to find him, and ask for help in finding your grandmother.

This is how Katie Hood (yes, Little Red Riding Hood), begins her trip to her grandmother’s house.  She needs help finding her missing grandmother, and she turns to the town outcast, Jack, for help.  When he agrees to help her, the two set off on an adventure to rescue Kate’s grandmother, and hopefully discover the meanings behind the creepy tapestries.

So, this book is a mashup of quite a few fairy tales.  You have Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel – just to name a few.  Plus, guess what?  It all works out, pretty well.  You might think that any book that tries to mash all of these stories together might fail at doing so, but Elizabeth Paulson did a pretty fantastic job at making them blend together and create an original and entertaining story.  It was really good.  I enjoyed it, and it had a few surprises that I didn’t really expect, but made the story even more interesting.

The only thing that I had problems with was how rushed the book seemed.  The beginning and the middle were drawn out, the way that they should be, considering it’s an adventure these two are setting out on.  However, the last quarter of the book just felt hurried along.  I think there was a lot more room for detail, as the ending just seemed pretty simple to me.  While I don’t believe this ruins the book, I was hoping for an ending that was a bit more climactic and powerful.

If you love fairy tale retellings, you really won’t want to miss this one.  It’s different, it’s entertaining, and it’s definitely worth a read!

 

Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

4 stars
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4 Responses to Dead Upon a Time by Elizabeth Paulson

  1. Pingback: Looking Back on August 2015 Book Releases - These Paper Hearts

  2. debbie kelley says:

    What would you say the setting and plot would be? Conflict and resolution? I read the book but am a little confused.

    • Kelly says:

      The setting of the book seemed to me to be like a medieval village, and the plot itself pretty much is a take on Little Red Riding Hood, where the girl’s grandmother is kidnapped and no one in town wants to help her because of who she is. It really was a confusing book at times, and it kind of had a lackluster ending that made me want more (or a sequel…or something).

  3. Cherry says:

    Can you find out about the author? By the way, I love the text.

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