I love fairy tales for a few reasons. First of all, I love that they have lasted over centuries of storytelling. They are stories that almost everyone knows, in some form or another. They are tales that have created characters that have lasted throughout the ages. They are tales that give us a glimpse into a life long ago while also allowing us to mold them to our present day lives. Many are basic stories that have grown over time. I also love the lessons they tend to leave behind, again lessons that grow as time goes on.
I also adore mythology as well. To me, mythology is very similar to fairytales. They both are stories full of fantastic elements, that take the reader or listener on an epic journey. They are also a great way of understanding what life was like in the distant past. Mythology gives us a glimpse how ancient peoples lived and ran their lives. They are also stories that again, can change and grow with time. Today we envision them in so many different ways. We can recreate them to fit our lives and fit our modern times.
Once Upon a Time is one of my favorite shows because of how they have taken some classic tales and breathed new life into them. They started the series by re-telling some of the classic tales; Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and a number of others. The show started simply. The first season was just establishing the characters and how they all fit together. One of the best parts of this show is that all the tales do fit together in some manner.
Over the course of the show, many of the stories have taken on a life of their own. Snow White, a character I never put much thought into, grew into a character I understand and admire. I know that these are just their reimagining of these stories but they have given me a new way to look at tales that I have always loved. Characters that at times seemed very one dimensional; such as The Evil Queen, have gotten so much depth to them. Regina is not just The Evil Queen, she is a woman who has made wrong choices in her life and is striving to turn her life around. She is the epitome of the struggle between good and evil and how the fight is never over.
I have always admired the way the creators have taken inspiration from the originals of the classics. They don’t base their stories off the Disney versions. They are not afraid to take a character we thought we should always hate and make them grow into a character we love; such as Captain Hook.
I remember when they were going to introduce Elsa and Anna from Frozen to the series how worried I was. I was worried that they were jumping on a bandwagon and were going to lose the intricate story-telling they had used for so long. I was scared it was just going to be a re-telling of the Frozen story, which would have been a major disappointment.
I was pleasantly surprised to see them take elements of the Frozen movie and connect the original story of The Snow Queen into the story. Frozen is inspired by The Snow Queen but makes little reference to the original story. Once Upon a Time actually integrated The Snow Queen herself into the story, along with some great story elements such as the shards of ice entering the eyes and changing the characters. I loved that they were able to take these two stories and created a new one that was intriguing and fun to watch.
They have always a done a great job of re-telling the fairytale stories (there are a few exceptions of them dropping a few story lines but in general they do a great job) which was why I was very excited to see them bring in the concept of The Underworld and Mythology into the show. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by how they did it.
First, I did like how they portrayed The Underworld. In mythology, The Underworld is not Hell. It is much as it was portrayed in the show, an in-between spot. It is a place to take care of any unfinished business and then move on. It is not a horrible place to be. It is more like a purgatory.
The show did a good job at making it clear that it was not Hell. The characters could move on to a “better place,” or a “worse place.” We get to infer for ourselves what that meant. I liked that element.
What disappointed me most about the storyline was the lack of character development for Hades. In mythology, Hades is not a horrible person. When the lots were drawn for the universe Hades got The Underworld. It was not a punishment. He was not angry or being doomed. That is just what he got.
Over time society has vilified Hades because he resided over the land of the dead. We are scared of death and what it means and what comes after. Because of that fear we have made it so that Hades is a scary entity. He is equated with the devil. Our fear of death has created a villain out of him.
In the show, they worked with that idea, which was fine. What I was disappointed about was that we didn’t get to see him grow at all. All of our other villains, we have seen them change over time. We always gotten their backstories and we have gotten to see how they became the villain in the first place. Usually, there is some trauma that has created this person we have before us. We got none of that with Hades.
We never got to see why he was cursed by Zeus. We got a sentence about it, something about Zeus being scared of Hades’s want for power. Which is fine but in this show we are used to getting so much more. We are used to seeing our characters have depth, Hades lacked that.
I was disappointed because there was so much potential with the mythology storylines. We saw Hercules for an episode and we saw Zesus for half a second. That was all. I expected to get much more. With the plethora of material that was available to play with and expand it could have been very interesting to see it all develop and mix with the fairytales.
Now I know they may not have wanted to stray too far from the fairytales and get lost in this new storytelling. The issue is they are running out of fairy tales. They need to be able to move the stories forward without pushing the limits too much. The new “Land of Lost Stories,” may be teetering on the edge. I think they could have done a lot with the mythology and integrating the two together. Mythology is a form of fairytales (at least to me) and I think it could have been very interesting to see how these two forms of storytelling combined with one another.
I still love this show. I am interested to see where they can go from this point. I was just hoping to get a lot more from the mythology storylines than we got. There was potential there that was not realized as I was hoping it would be.
(I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)
I have stated in previous reviews that reimagining and re-tellings of fairy tales are some of my favorite kinds of stories. I loved to see how people rethink classic stories or delve deeper into the characters. David Meredith’s story gives us a deeper look into the character of Snow White.
Snow White is probably my least favorite princess. Her story has always been pretty basic and boring to me. I have never felt a true connection to her. This tale gave me a new look at Snow White and has given me a new appreciation for her as a character. Now when I think of her I will see a stronger character than I have before.
It has been a year since Prince Charming passed away. Snow White is consumed by her grief. She wants nothing to do with anyone or anything around her including her only daughter, Raven. Raven is getting married but Snow White cannot find a way to care or get wrapped up in the wedding. All she can think about is missing her husband.
In an effort to find real solitude Snow White goes on a walk and ends up in the quarters of her deceased stepmother. In the abandoned room she finds her stepmother’s mirror. She starts talking to the mirror and begins a journey into her past to find out who she truly is.
Snow White is taken through her past and is able to get out many of the emotions she has been holding inside of her for so much of her life. After each flashback, the mirror tries to make Snow see an important part of who she is. At first, Snow is combative, she refuses to see anything good before her. She only sees loss, abuse, and grief.
The mirror refuses to let her be consumed by those feelings. What the mirror does is show Snow White what is inside of her. It can’t show her anything that she does not hold inside of herself in some manner. At first, that is only her grief and anger. But slowly that begins to change.
Snow White learns just how strong of a woman she is. Her life has not been easy. She was severely abused by her stepmother. She was poisoned. She was doubted and abused by those she was supposed to rule. She had trouble conceiving a child and doubted her worth to Charming. Through each trial, she fought back and found a way to live on. The mirror shows Snow White that her grief over losing Charming is only one of her many battles. She can win this one, as well ,if only she does not give up.
Characters are my favorite parts of stories. The plot can be subpar, the setting hard to follow but if I connect to a character I am most likely going to enjoy the story in some manner. I wasn’t sure exactly what this story was going to be about when I read the summary. I thought we may get the origins of the mirror and Snow White having to fight a battle to save herself.
In part I was right. Snow White fought an internal struggle to find the woman she had lost in her sorrow. I appreciated this view into Snow White as a character. The flashbacks into her life were interesting. They stayed very close to the original story. This was not a long story, it basically all takes place in the room with the mirror, but it takes us throughout all of Snow White’s history. We get to see what kind of woman she actually is.
The story is also one about dealing with grief and losing someone close to you. For me, this hit a bit closer to home than it may for other readers. The ending, in particular, made me a bit teary-eyed. I think the way living on after losing someone was talked about made me appreciate the story a bit more than I would have otherwise.
If you enjoy fairytales and glimpses into characters we think we know well you will enjoy this story. It is a quick read but a powerful one. There are some dark moments that were a bit hard to read but combined with the other elements of the story I really enjoyed the story.
Purchase the book here on Amazon.
(This story as read as part of the Once Upon a Time X Challenge over at Stainless Steel Droppings).
I found this challenge through Michelle, Books and Movies Addict while reading through her TBR post. She mentioned it and the title instantly intrigued me.
The challenge is hosted by Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings. Here is a summary of the event:
Monday, March 21st (my wife Mary’s birthday) marks the official start date of the tenth annual Once Upon a Time Challenge. This is a reading and viewing and gaming event that encompasses four broad categories: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology, including the seemingly countless sub-genres and blending of genres that fall within this spectrum. The challenge continues through June 21st and allows for very minor (1 book only) participation as well as more immersion depending on your reading/viewing/gaming whims.
There are a number of different ways to participate. Since this is the first time I am participating I am going to go with The Journey option. This option only asks that you read at least one book in one of the categories, Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology. Since these are the main genres that I love, I am sure this will be easy for me. But I didn’t want to commit to more in case something came up.
There are a handful of books I am planning on reading coming up that are Fantasy. After I finish The Lunar chronicles (which would fit the fairytale part, but since I started it before the challenge started I am not using it), I plan on reading the newest Cassandra Clare, Lady Midnight, which starts a new series. I also plan on reading Veiled Souls by Abbie Chandler. And I am sure before June 21st there were will be a few more that I will read.
I am also participating in the Quest on Screen as well. One of my favorite shows is called, Once Upon a Time, kind of good fit if you ask me. For the challenge, I think after the season finale, I will write up a post about the way fairytales and mythology is handled on the show.
First Review was for the book Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare.
Second Review was for the book The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith.
Review for Quest on Screen: Use of Fairy Tales Vs. Mythology in Once Upon a Time.