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Once Upon a Time III

March 21, 2009

Once Upon a Time IIII’ve been studiously avoiding everyone’s posts about the third round of Carl’s Once Upon a Time Challenge, because I knew I didn’t have time to go through and get my own list set. Finally, this morning I sat down and devoted at least an hour to going through all of the participants’ lists, looking books up on Amazon, and generally enjoying one of a book lovers’ greatest pleasures: creating a book list. My pool ended up a bit large, lol, but that’s ok-even if I don’t finish them all by June 20th, I know I want to get to them eventually! I’ve chosen Quest the Second, which requires me to read at least one book from each of the four categories (Mythology, Folklore, Fairy Tales, and Fantasy), so that’s how the book list is divided up.

But before I get to my potential reads, I wanted to list a few incredible books for anyone not sure what to read for the challenge: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, The Little Country by Charles de Lint, Sorcery and Cecilia, or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia C. Wrede, The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye by A.S. Byatt, Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, and I, Coriander by Sally Gardner. Even if you don’t normally read fantasy, I bet one of these books would appeal to you (and to participate in the challenge, you can choose the quest to only read one!): the Gaiman is a comedy romp filled with African and Caribbean folklore, the de Lint is full of Celtic fairies and music, the Stevermer and Wrede is a Regency historical novel with magic thrown in, the Byatt is literary fairy tales, the Marr is raw YA wonderfulness, and the Gardner is a children’s book set in Cromwell’s England and a parallel fairy world. While they’re all different, they have a few things in common: unforgettable characters, wonderful writing, and a strong likelihood you’ll stay up past your bedtime to finish one last chapter. ;)

Now on to my pool (all descriptions taken from Amazon)!


  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan: The escapades of the Greek gods and heroes get a fresh spin in the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, about a contemporary 12-year-old New Yorker who learns he’s a demigod. Perseus, aka Percy Jackson, thinks he has big problems. His father left before he was born, he’s been kicked out of six schools in six years, he’s dyslexic, and he has ADHD. What a surprise when he finds out that that’s only the tip of the iceberg: he vaporizes his pre-algebra teacher, learns his best friend is a satyr, and is almost killed by a minotaur before his mother manages to get him to the safety of Camp Half-Blood–where he discovers that Poseidon is his father.
  • Ain’t Myth Behaving: Two Novellas by Katie MacAlister: A modern woman and a god from ancient legend? Surely an epic love mismatch…or maybe it’s the “myth match” of the century? The irrepressible Katie MacAlister brings us heroes who are more than mere mortals in two sparkling new novellas of the Otherworld.


  • The Coyote Road, ed. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling: Trickster characters have long been a staple of folk literature—and are a natural choice for acclaimed editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s latest “mythic” anthology. The Coyote Road features a remarkable range of authors, including Holly Black, Charles de Lint, Ellen Klages, and Kelly Link, each with his or her unique look at a trickster character.
  • The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson: The Fox Woman follows two families, one of foxes and another of humans. The restless Kaya no Yoshifuji fails to receive an appointment in the Emperor’s court and, distracted and seemingly unfazed, decides to relocate to a rural estate to pass a pensive winter, accompanied by his wife Shikujo and son Tadamaro. But a young fox named Kitsune and her brother, mother, and grandfather have set up their den in the run-down estate, and soon the fate of both families becomes intertwined; Yoshifuji becomes bewitched by the foxes, and Kitsune in turn falls in love with him, much to the distress of all others involved, especially Shikujo.
  • The New Policeman by Kate Thompson: In exasperation, J.J.’s mother asks for more time as her birthday gift. Unaware of any magical implications, the teen innocently sets out to find out where the time has gone. This search leads him into the heart of Tír na n’Óg, the land of eternal youth, where he discovers the truth about some family secrets and the identity of the rather hopeless new town policeman, whose mysterious investigation parallels J.J.’s quest. This novel delivers richly tantalizing morsels of Irish mythology as traditional characters dance across the pages.
  • Arabian Nights, trans. Husein Hassawady
  • Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice by A.S. Byatt: Brilliantly mingling reality with the surreal atmosphere of folktales and fairy tales, Byatt follows The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye with an equally virtuosic and beguiling collection. The subtitle is the key to the oppositions that inspire these six stories. They teem with contrasts between inexplicable compulsions and societal norms, the extremes of love and hate, the mysterious tension between the rational and the mystic, and between the creation of art and the demands of daily life.

Fairy Tales

  • Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan: in her extraordinary and often dark first novel, award-winning story writer Lanagan creates two worlds: the first a preindustrial village that might have sprung from a Brueghel canvas, a place of victims and victimizers; the second a personal heaven granted to Liga Longfield, who has survived her father’s molestations and a gang rape but, with one baby and pregnant again, cannot risk any further pain. As she raises her two daughters, placid Branza and fiery Urdda, she discovers that her universe is permeable: a dwarf or littlee man, in Lanagan’s characteristically knotted parlance, slips in and out of her world in search of treasure; and a good-hearted youth also enters, magically transformed into a bear in the process. A less kind man-bear follows, and then a teenage Urdda, avid for a richer life with the vivid people, figures out how to pass through the border, too.
  • Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier: This riveting story about 16-year-old Jenica; her pet frog, Gogu; and her four sisters takes place between the fairy world and the family’s Romanian estate of Piscul Dracului. When the girls were young, they discovered a mysterious portal that appears every full moon and allows them access to the Dancing Glade in the Other Kingdom. They dress in the finest gowns and spend all night dancing with a host of bizarre and enchanting fairy creatures. Unfortunately, the girls’ simple and carefree lives change drastically when their father becomes ill and must spend the winter in the milder climate of Constanta.
  • Godmother: the Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon: This retelling of Cinderella follows the oft ignored character of the fairy godmother, who may or may not be a mentally ill New Yorker. Lil, as this godmother is known, is now living in New York City, broke and employed at a bookstore, years after being exiled from the kingdom of fairies for betraying her charge. Condemned to live as an old woman, her wings bound to her back as penance, Lil is overcome by longing for what she has lost, slipping in her recollections of her idyllic past into the harsh present. When she meets Veronica, a young woman perpetually dogged with man problems, Lil sees an opportunity to redeem herself.
  • A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce: a Rumpelstiltskin retelling


  • Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay: Fifteen-year-old Canadian Ned Marriner accompanies his famous photographer father, Edward, on a shoot at Aix-en-Provence’s Saint-Saveur Cathedral while his physician mother, Meghan, braves the civil war zone in Sudan with Doctors Without Borders. As Ned explores the old cathedral, he meets Kate Wenger, a geeky but attractive American girl who’s a walking encyclopedia of history. In the ancient baptistry, the pair are surprised by a mysterious, scarred man wielding a knife who warns that they’ve “blundered into a corner of a very old story. It is no place for children.” But Ned and Kate can’t avoid becoming dangerously entangled in a 2,500-year-old love triangle among mythic figures.
  • The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar: Millar offers fiercely funny (and often inebriated) Scottish fairies, a poignant love story as well as insights into the gravity of Crohn’s disease, cultural conflicts and the plight of the homeless in this fey urban fantasy. Due to the machinations of the obnoxious Tala, Cornwall’s fairy king, only a few humans can see the 18-inch-tall fairies who alight in Manhattan: Magenta, a homeless woman who thinks she’s the ancient Greek general Xenophon; Dinnie, an overweight slacker; and Kerry, a poor artist/musician who hopes her Ancient Celtic Flower Alphabet will win a local arts prize. Fairies Heather MacKintosh and Morag MacPherson scheme to put Dinnie and Kerry together, rescue fairy artifacts and prove that in love or war, music is essential.
  • The Wood Wife by Terri Windling: Journalist and ex-poet Maggie Black has inherited the estate of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Davis Cooper, with whom she corresponded for years, but never met. Maggie is a cosmopolitan woman of the West Coast and Europe, and a child of the Appalachian mountains; she has no interest in the desert. She has an ex-husband she still loves in L.A. And Davis Cooper drowned in the Arizona desert, the victim of a mysterious murder. Maggie has many reasons to stay away. Yet she moves to Cooper’s desert home, seeking to unravel the secrets of Cooper and his late lover, the mad painter Anna Naverra. But these, Maggie will discover, are not the desert’s only mysteries. Ancient powers are stirring–enigmatic and dangerous spirits that would use humans for their own purposes.
  • The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente: The opening volume of the Orphan’s Tales begins in a palace garden, where a girl has been abandoned because of the strange, ink-black stain around her eyes and over her eyelids. Because the sultan and his nobles wish to avoid the problem she presents, she is left to wander the gardens, alone until another child, a boy, comes and speaks to her. She reveals the secret of her ink-stained eyes, that they contain many tales. In return for the boy’s company, she tells him stories, beginning with the tale of the prince Leander. Each succeeding story grows from the one before it, characters recounting tales they were told and even weaving them back together. There is an entire mythology in this book, in which the themes of familiar fairy tales are picked apart and rearranged into a new and wonderful whole.
  • Nightwatch by Sergei Lukyanenko: Set in contemporary Moscow, Lukyanenko’s fantastic American debut—the first in a series about an epic struggle between good and evil—charts the adventures of a race of supernaturally gifted Others, who serve either the Light or Dark Side. The Others slip in and out of an eerie parallel world where they coexist in an uneasy peace that a terrible revolution may soon disrupt.
  • Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce: Tom is furious. His brother, Peter, has measles, so now Tom is being shipped off to stay with Aunt Gwen and Uncle Alan in their boring old apartment. There’ll be nothing to do there and no one to play with. Tom just counts the days till he can return home to Peter.Then one night the landlady’s antique grandfather clock strikes thirteen times leading Tom to a wonderful, magical discovery and marking the beginning of a secret that’s almost too amazing to be true. But it is true, and in the new world that Tom discovers is a special friend named Hatty and more than a summer’s worth of adventure for both of them.
  • The Faeries of Dreamdark by Laini Taylor: Magpie, granddaughter of the West Wind, is born of dreams. When Humans—”mannies”—start letting loose devils in the world, faerie Magpie and her band of rough-and-tumble, cheroot-smoking crows must start hunting them down. The tale takes its time in unfolding, with lovely echoes of its literary antecedents from Tolkien on down. Magpie also learns it is she who must keep the dark from swallowing the world. She finds where the dragons, and her ancient heroine, Bellatrix, have gone, and she wakes an ancient djinni.The tapestry of the world needs reweaving, and a blond, tattooed princeling needs a way to remake his malformed wings. This all braids together into a radiant conclusion.
  • Sabriel by Garth Nix: After receiving a cryptic message from her father, Abhorsen, a necromancer trapped in Death, 18-year-old Sabriel sets off into the Old Kingdom. Fraught with peril and deadly trickery, her journey takes her to a world filled with parasitical spirits, Mordicants, and Shadow Hands. Unlike other necromancers, who raise the dead, Abhorsen lays the disturbed dead back to rest. This obliges him–and now Sabriel, who has taken on her father’s title and duties–to slip over the border into the icy river of Death, sometimes battling the evil forces that lurk there, waiting for an opportunity to escape into the realm of the living.
  • Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones: A photograph called “Fire and Hemlock” that has been on the wall since her childhood. A story in a book of supernatural stories — had Polly read it before under a different title? Polly, packing to return to college, is distracted by picture and story, clues from the past stirring memories. But why should she suddenly have memories that do not seem to correspond to the facts?
  • The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany: Wherein the men of Erl desire to be “ruled by a magic lord,” and the lord’s heir, Alveric, ventures into Elfland to win the king’s daughter, Lirazel. Their story does not progress as a reader weaned on the diluted milk of formulaic fantasy would expect; and the novel’s unique journeys and events are matched by Dunsany’s rich and lyrical prose and by his contagious intoxication with the magic and marvels of both Elfland and our own world.
24 Comments leave one →
  1. March 21, 2009 11:03 am

    Okay, I really really should have not read this post. My own list was long enough to start with! Any chance of it remaining the same size has now gone out of the window!

  2. March 21, 2009 11:04 am

    Eva, I’ve been debating this one. Just came across it & itsounds truly interesting. I love myth, folklore, legend (and A.S. Byatt!) but have never been much of a fantasy reader–unless Harry potter, the Pullman trilogy & The Mists of Avalon count….College student really enjoyed the Garth Nix books; you’ll be pleased with Sabriel. Good luck! Maybe I’ll join ya!

  3. March 21, 2009 11:15 am

    I’m tempted by this one, though I’m loathe to take on another challenge, seeing as how I’m way behind on most of the ones I’m already signed up for. Might have to do it anyway, though! Currently reading The Ranger’s Apprentice series with my kids, so that could count, right? And maybe some short stories…

  4. March 21, 2009 11:18 am

    Thanks for reminding me about this challenge. I’ve gotta go and figure out which books I want to read for it. This will be my first time joining in but I am really looking forward to it.

  5. March 21, 2009 11:38 am

    Looks like you have some great books on your list!! This is seriously my favorite challenge (along with RIP, of course!) I feel like a kid in a candy store!

  6. March 21, 2009 1:23 pm

    Damn…I see my wish list grooooowing already. But then that is half the fun, isn’t it?

  7. March 21, 2009 1:26 pm

    *snaps mouth shut, furtively wipes drool from her chin* fabulous post, Eva, not least because you describe what the books are about, so any one else interested can add them to their list too! You and I have a couple we are sharing – The Wood Wife, Good Fairies of New York. and I already had Wicked Lovely on my list, and I’m so glad to see Charles de Lint recommended, and Ysabel on your list – hurray for Canadian fantasy!!! And oh!! I have Tender Morsels out of the library and I completely forgot to put it on!!!!! then you’ve named some books I haven’t even heard of…….you’ll be getting some bad blogger points soon! lol

  8. Vasilly permalink
    March 21, 2009 1:52 pm

    Now I have more books to add to my list! Happy reading!

  9. March 21, 2009 2:59 pm

    Good list!

    I read the Valente book for last year’s challenge and I really enjoyed it. It had such an interesting structure!

  10. March 21, 2009 3:37 pm

    wow that’s some pool to choose from!!

    I’ve read a few off your list and you are in for some treats!

    have to say that I read Sorcery and Cecilia, or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia C. Wrede and totally enjoyed the enitire trilogy!

  11. March 21, 2009 4:00 pm

    I’m glad I’ve already made my list _ which has 27 books on it, because otherwise I’d be seriously tempted to add to it …

  12. March 21, 2009 4:17 pm

    I’ve decided to join in, too, since I’m currently reading Brisingr. And since I just happen to have bookmooched A Midsummer NIght’s Dream the past week. I put De Lint’s The Little Country on my list because of your recommendation. Thanks. :D

  13. March 21, 2009 9:01 pm

    Fantastic list of books, Eva, and thanks so much for recommending books to those who may not know what to read. Very kind of you, not to mention the fact that you recommend really good books!

    Thanks for joining in, hope you enjoy the heck out of everything you read.

  14. March 22, 2009 2:46 am

    Great list, I completely forgot that I have Elementals and that it could count towards this challenge, I may use that as some of my short story weekend reads.

    Looking forward to your reviews

  15. March 22, 2009 5:12 am

    Great list! I hope you enjoy The Good Fairies of New York! I look forward to your reviews.

  16. March 22, 2009 5:41 am

    What a wonderful list! Many of them just went right onto my already ridiculously long TBR list! What joy!

  17. March 22, 2009 8:57 am

    Oh my–so many interesting books! As I’ve been reading everyone’s lists I feel like I’m a little in over my head with my basic choices for the challenge (I don’t actually have any yet, just ideas). I’ve heard great things about The Good Fairies of New York.

  18. March 22, 2009 7:10 pm

    What a great list! I will be reading The Wood Wife too… and maybe a couple others on your list. I’ll be checknig back for inspiration!

  19. March 23, 2009 6:01 am

    I’m reading Godmother for OUAT also and really enjoying it.

  20. March 24, 2009 12:19 pm

    I read The Wood Wife last year for OUT II. It was a fantastic read. Hope you love it as much as I did.

  21. March 24, 2009 3:05 pm

    I keep seeing Tender Morsels on so many lists… I may have to go look for that one for my quest :)

    Have a fantastic time with the challenge and keep us posted on all these books!


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