This is not the first time I have written about the Twisted Tales series. The series is beginning to become one of my favorites as I read more and more of the books and fall in love with the simplicity of the tales that are told within their pages. Every single one of the books takes you back to the days when watching cartoon Disney movies was a common occurrence (while I still love the classic Disney movies I don't watch them as often now) and they are easy reads. Not to mention, though they are all technically a part of a series, they don't follow a sequence. They are, in a sense, single books made to be read on their own and they can be read in any order. Or be read in between reading books of other series.
At this time, there are 12 books in the twisted tales series. I was personally surprised to find that Liz Braswell has not written them all. In fact, there are three writers of the Twisted tales series: Liz Braswell, Elizabeth Lim, and Jen Calonita. While Liz Braswell has written 7 of the 12 books, Jen Calonita has written 3 and Elizabeth Lim has written only 2.
At present, I have read about half of the books (not including "Once Upon a Dream" which I did not finish). You can read my review of three of them including "As Old as Time" and "Unbirthday" here. I plan to continue reading the books and in fact, have recently read "Go the Distance" and have "Straight on 'Till Morning" on lend from the library to read next. While the books are not perfect, I find them to be magical and fun. They are great reads particularly when I want an easier read or a break from my darker YA reads. Despite sometimes feeling as though the books could use a better editor (or someone to suggest better word choice), the books constantly capture my attention and make me want to read until the end.
Below are three more of the Twisted Tales I have read recently and some in-depth thoughts I had on them.
Part of Your World
Similar to "Unbirthday" which tells the story of Alice returning "too late" to save Wonderland, "Part of Your World" is set after the original story happened as opposed to during. In "Part of Your World" Ariel failed to save everyone in the final moments before the sun set on the final day she had to make the prince fall for her. As a result, her father was captured (and thought to have been killed), the prince married Ursula, and Ariel became the Queen of the sea. This is where we find Ariel in the book.
The plot of this book is really quite entrancing. Braswell sets it up so there is quite a number of things going on at once and Ariel (aided by trusty friends Flounder, Sebastian and Scuttle as well as a dazed Prince Eric) has to solve it all, mostly without her voice. Braswell does a great job of showing how someone from an entirely different culture (in this case, an underworld culture) would react to entering a new one. I personally remember a family friend who was a pilot showing us American coins and describing the names and worths of each one before we moved to the states. One of the scenes from this book reminded me of that.
One of the biggest issues I had with this book was word choice. In one scene, Ariel and Eric are talking and use the word "octopodes" and "octopuses" but not "octopi." They use one of the words for multiple sentences before one of the two of them finally corrects them to the other (but not to "octopi"). Not only was the scene frustrating because they did not use the most commonly used plural of octopus (though technically all three are correct according to google and Mirriam Webster) but they waited to correct one another until after using it multiple times. It is strange dialogue and word choice like this which makes me question who is editing these books. Other places in the book had funky word choices that did not contribute to the mood of the book at all but instead made me think "Why would you use that there? That is such an easy fix!"
A Whole New World
I really loved this book. It was totally different than most of the other books in this series and had a really different feel to it (probably because it is set in a very different setting). This book tackles a lot more than just what is in the original movie. While in the movie, the main plot is Jafar's evil takeover (with a little love from Aladdin and Jasmine on the side). In the book, Jafar's evil takeover comes sooner than expected given that Aladdin never gets the lamp and the main plot revolves around not only Jasmine taking back leadership but the street rats and the rest of the population being treated more equally. Jasmine is looking to revamp society.
Braswell does a good job of balancing the feel of "Agrabah" with the feel of a good old revolutionary uprising book in "A Whole New World" and she creates an awesome character in Princess Jasmine making her both the image of a perfect posh princess and a feminist, warrior princess at the same time. She is the hero all girls want to grow up to be. Braswell says with Jasmine "you can be pretty and a fighter at the same time!"
So This is Love
This was the first of the Twisted Tales that I read from a different author (Elizabeth Lim in this case). I didn't really notice any major differences in the writing style or in any other areas which, personally, I found excellent because when I go to read books in the same series I generally expect to find the same quality of writing and the same general style. This book met that expectation and exceeded it.
I really enjoyed "So This is Love." I think that Cinderella's story can be one of the hardest to redo in the way that these authors write their twisted tales because the Twisted Tales authors are essentially retelling the Disney tales. They have the same mood and feel to them. The characters have the same personality (though usually, they have grown, changed, and developed because they are written out rather than just shown on screen) and the plot is the same except for that one thing the author changes and whatever changes surrounding that one thing.
Given that, the three earliest princess tales (Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty) would be the hardest because you have less to work with. In any other case, that might be helpful as you have less you have to twist into your story but for these writers, they have that ability to use it all (because they seem to have rights to Disney), and the more they have to work with, the easier.
All this to say, despite what I would perceive as a harder task given the lack of storyline and character development in the original cartoon movie of Cinderella, this book is amazing. While Cinderella still had the same shy and meek personality, she also stood up for herself more and that personality was more developed. While Cinderella still appeared to fall for the Prince in one night, she also doubted that love and then developed that love over a (slightly) longer period of time. And as a plus, there was added plot revolving around the fairy godmother, an evil duke, and Cinderella's inability to be found as the owner of the glass shoe. It was perhaps still not my favorite story of them all (because I generally prefer a stronger woman who is more sarcastic and less shy) but it was still an excellent book and in the same way that Braswell captures the mood of the original Disney movies, Lim does in this book as well.