Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on November 14, 2020
Once Upon a Curse is an anthology of 17 dark faerie tales by NY Times and USA Today bestsellers. If you’re looking for a Disney fairy tale, look someplace else. You won’t find it here. This is a collection of short stories containing grim twists on Snow White, Rumplestilstskin, Cinderella, and others.

My favorite story in the anthology is “The Morrigan” by Phaedra Weldon. Tam, a young college student majoring in folklore, is mugged and abducted by a band of tusk-sprouting trolls. Humans are unable to see them for who they actually are; only the Unseelie (a hybrid half-human/half Faery) are capable of that. But Tam is flabbergasted at what he’s only seen in pictures from his studies. The young man is made helpless by a torque, a half-circle of iron wrapped around his neck making him mute and helpless.

Tam is soon rescued by Aine McCuill, a woman of interest in one of his classes. Once out of the basement Aine turns herself into a horse taking Tam to the safety of his uncle’s home. There he learns he’s actually a Leprechaun and his oppressors are looking for his shillelagh (a wooden staff giving the Leprechaun his power).

Phaedra Weldon does an excellent job creating her world and filling it with believable characters and a plot that keeps readers enchanted throughout this short novella.

Another favorite is “The Final Straw” by Jennifer Blackstream. The story is an interesting take on Rumplestiltskin where Milly needs to convert straw into gold or face death. If successful, she becomes the next queen, but Milly has no interest in becoming a royal, and is more focused on running away with Maddox, a man who snuck into her prison cell.

Finally, I enjoyed “Dance with the Devil,” by Donna Augustine where ballet dancer Anastasia sells her soul to the Devil to become the most enchanting ballet dancer the world has ever seen. Even the Devil can’t resist her charms.

Like any anthology, there are great stories and not so good. Some end abruptly while others felt unfinished, and I got the strong feeling a few were the first couple of chapters in unfinished novels. With that said, you can pick and choose the stories you like and enjoy.
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