Once Upon a Time: Red's Untold Tale
by Wendy Toliver
Series: Once Upon a Time #4
Published: September 22nd 2015
Genres: Fairy Tale, Retelling, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover (416 pages)
Source: For Review
Red is 16 and lives with Granny in a cottage in the village, where boarding up the house and hiding during Wolfstime is a means of survival. Red help's Granny with Granny's baked good business, catering as well as door-to-door sales.
Red has a constant internal battle between her wild side and her strict, overprotective upbringing, and the issue of "control" as she discovers she has a hot temper when the "mean girls" push her too far. ("When we learn to control it, we needn't fear it," Rumpelstiltskin says in the series.) She has flashbacks to her 13th year when she received her cloak and the nickname "Red."
She is plagued by nightmares that she doesn't understand, but the Once Upon a Time fans will recognize them as her wolf side coming out.
Red balances the difficult times with Granny at home and the girls at school with an emerging and satisfying romance with Peter.
Red’s Untold Tale does have the background story that we missed in the TV show. That being said, not much actually happens in this background story. We get to see Red interact more with Granny and Peter. But in the story, Peter and Red haven’t developed a relationship yet and Red’s relationship with Granny is pretty much the same as the bits we saw in the TV show. Long story short – it is background story, but that doesn’t mean anything new or relevant actually happened. I was kind of disappointed by that. Most of the other background stories for the characters gave insight to their motives and feelings. I didn’t feel like this story did either.
The plot felt ominous while I was reading it but only because I know what happens to Red. The end was incredibly frustrating. The end felt like a “To be continued…on the TV show. Go watch it.” Here’s why: Red starts a quest that she doesn’t finish. Red’s quest is to get an ingredients to cure her Grandmother’s pain during the Wolfstime. She spends a lot of time getting the potion ingredients except for the last ingredient. She doesn’t even start looking for it. I really wanted her to finish that stupid quest. Otherwise, why start it? And it’s not a quest that ever comes up on the show (so far anyway. Red has barely showed up this season and I guess it’s still possible.) If this quest for curing her Granny comes up in the TV show and actually finishes, then I would recommend this book a lot more. As it stands, the ending was abrupt and didn’t completely tie up. The ending was so loose tying everything together that if it was tying my shoes, they would have fallen off a hundred pages ago.
Even if I didn’t love the plot, I did love the writing. It was very well written for a TV show companion novel. I loved that it was told in flashbacks. It so fit the Once Upon a Time style! There were lots of quotes that I found funny or charming. Here’s my favorite quote from Granny:
If it’s in your power to make it perfect, you should never settle for anything less.
-Wendy Toliver, Red’s Untold Tale pg 9
I say “Amen” to Granny for that.
And here’s my favorite quote from Red:
Everyone knew that trolls were worse cooks than ogres–or even royal princesses, for that matter.
-Wendy Toliver, Red’s Untold Tale pg 13
That might be my favorite quote from a book, ever.
Something else that showed up in the book that was totally Once Upon a Time’s style was Red talking about a fairy tale Granny used to tell her about an elephant with big ears and a feather. Easter eggs like that are what makes Once Upon a Time so great and I was delighted to see something like that in the book.
The one thing that you might find new about Red are her dreams that foreshadow her turning into a wolf. When Red is trying to figure out her dreams, she talks to an old wizard. The old wizard describes how we are our truest selves when we dream. I thought that was beautiful. The old wizard does talk about how he knew her mother and the cross that she wears was her mother’s. The cross is supposed to help her understand her dreams. I don’t think that it does. This information came at the very end and I still don’t know for sure if it is exactly new or that interesting.
Do you like reading movie or TV show tie-in novels? Do you expect to see new or interesting information? Or do you just like seeing the characters and the world for a little longer?
This post contains affiliate links and I receive a small percentage of sales made through these links. I received this book for review from the publisher, Disney Book Group, in exchange for an honest review. I was not told what to say, I was not paid to write this review and all the opinions expressed are my own.