Kailana's Review

This novel comes before Once Upon a Summer's Day, a novel I read earlier in the month. It is rare that I read the same author in the same month, I like to get some variety, but sometimes there are those books that you just can't wait to get into. This is one of those authors. From the back of the book:

Once upon a winter's night, a poor crofter trades his daughter Camille to wed Prince Alain of the Summerwood in exchange for a lifetime of riches. Though true love blossoms between Camille and the prince, he is haunted by sadness and will not allow her to see his unmasked face. Believing she can lift whatever curse has been bestowed on him, Camille acts on her own - with devastating results, as all she loves is swept away.

Not, to regain what she has lost, she must embark on a desperate quest through the hinterlands of Faery, seeking a mysterious place lying somewhere east of the sun and west of the moon...

Once Upon a Winter's Night is a retelling of the classic folk tale, East of the Sun, West of the Moon. Unlike Once Upon a Summer's Day, the person on a quest this time is a girl, Camille. She is of in search of the Prince of the Summerwood instead of him searchng for her. This takes care of the two brother, as the other prince did the rescuing in Once Upon a Summer's Day. That means that the later two novels will concentrate on the princesses and their adventures.

I am shocked how many people are not familiar with this fairy tale/folk tale. My advice to you is that you should read where it all began before attempting this novel. A little background information will reveal to you the basics of the novel, but the children's tale came first, so it is only right.

In the novel, as in the classic fairy tale, the prince is cursed to take on the shape of a bear by the day and a prince by night. Only Camille is not allowed to know that, or the prince's curse will be farther reaching. Camille listens to her mother, though, who is a money-hungry oppurtunitist, and the girl attempts to learn the secret of her princes fate. Once she does, though, disaster strikes and she is forced into a quest with only a bird to accompany her and unlikely aid along her path.

It is hard to write this review, because by explaining the basics of the novel, I give away the fairy tale to those that have not read it. Many people would think that Camille is being shown as a nosey female, not knowing what is good for her, but her courage is tested and she is shown willing. She makes unlikely friends along the way, and there is laughter and danger to follow. In the end, her curiousity may have been better for the prince than remaining in the dark, because she shows readers that heroes do not always have to be men and shows Camille that she is capable of doing anything. Something that had been dashed while living in her small lifestyle with her parents and several siblings.

Sort of corny in a sense, a novel that shows that love can overcome all obstacles, but then it is a fairy tale novel, isn't it.


Mailyn's review

From Amazon:

When the prince of Summerland (in Faery, of course) falls in love with poor farmer's daughter Camille, she is borne from her family's rough home to his grand castle on the back of a great white bear. In short order, she falls in love with the prince, though she is not permitted to see his face because of a family curse. One night, however, overcome with curiosity, she shines a candle on his beautiful face, which brings the curse on the household. All disappear but Camille, left alone to confront her fears and evil trolls who seek to claim Summerland's throne. She seeks the help of Lady Soriel, who gives her vague, oracular advice; an injured bird as companion; and a walking stick for the journey she must make. Camille has only a year and a day to search all of Faery for her lost love and free him from his terrible fate.

This book is one of many which flesh out the old Norwegian fairy tale East O' the Sun and West O' the Moon and I must say that the book grabbed me from the very beginning as Dennis L. McKiernan's writing is engaging. As the plot is fairly accurately described above I am simply going to concentrate on what I did and did not like.

To be honest there was little I did not like. Camille, although your average innocent fairy tale heroine is somewhat modernized. For example, she actually questions why it's OK for a man to be sexually active but a woman must remain a virgin until she marries. She does have her moments where you wonder what she was thinking but the way the story is narrated and unfolds makes you forgive her. Besides, if you've read many fairy tales you will by now recognize this as typical fairy tale heroine behavior [otherwise nothing bad would ever happen!]

The downside of the book is that it gets repetitive in some places. I realize this is meant to give Camille trials and tribulations and a very hard time before she gets to the end of her journey but sometimes it was overdone. One example that comes to mind is when she encounters the Fates. The reader basically is treated to the same exact thing three times and you have to wonder why the first Fate couldn't just give Camille everything she needed.

Overall I will say I rather enjoyed this book as I am an avid fairy tale lover. I didn't love it as much as the majority of people seem to love it but I trully did enjoy it. I especially liked the interactions between Camille, the Prince and the bear and have to say those were some of the best moments in the entire book and made it all worth reading.

I recommend it for anyone over 15 as this does have some sexual innuendos and interaction between Camille and the Prince althought this is well executed and not just thrown in for the sake of spicing up the novel.

A solid 4 out of 5!

And, the winners are:


We have decided that instead of choosing the books for you, we will just let you pick out of the four choices, which one you want to read the most.

Poison Study by Maria Snyder
Archangel by Sharon Shinn
Ill Wind by Rachel Caine
Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

So, just leave which book you want in the comments, and email us your addresses at either thetwistedk(at)gmail(dot)com or one of our personal addresses. Congrats folks!

The Assassin King by Elizabeth Haydon
Released December 2006

The Assassin King opens at winter's end with the arrival by sea of a mysterious hunter, a man of ancient race and purpose, who endlessly chants the names of the pantheon of demons that are his intended victims, as well as one other: Ysk, the original name of the Brother, now known as Achmed, the Assassin King of Ylorc.
At the same moment of this portentous arrival, two gatherings of great import are taking place. The first is a convocation of dragons, who gather in a primeval forest glade--the site of the horrific ending of Llauron, one of the last of their kind. They mourn not only his irrevocable death, but the loss of the lore and control over the Earth itself that it represents. The ancient wyrms are terrified for what will come as a result of this loss.
The Hedge King by George R.R. Martin
Released December 21, 2006
Collecting the six issue mini-series adapting Martin's hit novel, bringing the world of a Song of Ice and Fire to life in comic book form.

Night falls over the life of one noble knight and brings the dawn of his squire's knighthood. Dubbing himself 'Ser Duncan the Tall', The Hedge Knight sets forth to the tourney at Ashford Meadow in search of fame and glory and the honor of upholding his oath as a knight of the Seven Kingdoms. Unfortunately for him, the world isn't ready for a knight who keeps his oaths, and his chivalrous methods could be the very cause of his demise.

Nobody is safe in the secret hour.

Strange things happen at midnight in the town of Bixby, Oklahoma.

Time freezes.

Nobody moves.

For one secret hour each night, the town belongs to the dark creatures that haunt the shadows. Only a small group of people know about the secret hour — only they are free to move about the midnight time.

These people call themselves Midnighters. Each one has a different power that is strongest at midnight: Seer, Mindcaster, Acrobat, Polymath. For years the Midnighters and the dark creatures have shared the secret hour, uneasily avoiding one another. All that changes when the new girl with an unmistakable midnight aura appears at Bixby High School.

Jessica Day is not an outsider like the other Midnighters. She acts perfectly normal in every way. But it soon becomes clear that the dark creatures sense a hidden power in Jessica . . . and they're determined to stop her before she can use it.

Review: This book was a fast-paced, action packed story that fell short of my expectations. The beginning started off pretty decent, but by halfway through, I was bored. First, the world wasn’t fleshed out as well as I would have liked it, nor were the characters, thus they didn’t come alive on the page for me. And a few of the characters felt a bit sterotypical. Another problem I had with this book was that were way too many action sequences between the Midnighters and the darklings/slithers (the cannon fodder predator/snake-like creatures that roam the midnight hour). It got to the point where I would think (with irritation), “Here we go again! Another action scene!” There’s even a small amount of romance that was just developing as the story ends, but I didn’t find it very compelling. I did, however, think the concept of this book was neat—I mean, how many times have you wished for an extra hour in the day? The idea that there’s a 25th hour, that time freezes at midnight and only a select few--those born exactly at midnight—can access it, is interesting; I just think the idea wasn’t executed as well as it could have been, and by the end of the book, I still had questions--like why it is that only teenagers seem to be able to access the midnight hour? If those born at midnight are the only ones able to enter the midnight hour, shouldn’t there be older people who can access it too? Perhaps these questions are answered in the next book, but I doubt I’ll pick up the next in the trilogy to find out. I do, however, plan to give Westerfeld’s acclaimed Uglies trilogy a try. As for this one...

Rating: 3.0

I know, morbid title, but I have been thinking a lot lately about how authors that are dead continue to have books come out claiming that they wrote them. This arises from my excitement, and yet doubt, about Marion Zimmer Bradley. She is the author of one my favourite books, The Mists of Avalon.

A brief biography taken from Fantastic Fiction:

Marion Zimmer was born in Albany, NY, on June 3, 1930, and married Robert Alden Bradley in 1949. Mrs. Bradley received her B.A. in 1964 from Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, then did graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1965-67.

Writing for over 4 decades, she is best known for her Darkover science fantasy series and her Arthurian masterpiece, The Mists of Avalon. She also edited anthologies for 14 years and published Marion Zimmer Bradley's FANTASY Magazine.
She died in Berkeley, California on September 25, 1999, four days after suffering a major heart attack.

As you can see from that brief biography, Bradley died 7 years ago , but yet, books continue to come out that state that they are by her, with help from another author. It makes you wonder, is it worth it to pay the money for these books? Is it holding on to your love of the old author, or is it finding love for a new one? And, did Bradley really intend for her series to continue and develop in such a way?

This is the question I asked myself when Ancestors of Avalon came out in 2004. All of the books that Bradley had wrote for this series after Mists of Avalon were written with the help of Diana L. Paxson. Priestess of Avalon came out in 2000, but it was still close enough to when Bradley was alive to be realistically connected to her. She has had several books come out after she died. This is all being written because she has the sixth book in the Avalon series coming out next year, Ravens of Avalon. I have yet to read Anecestors of Avalon, but I am planning to make it a near future read. I just think sometimes that Bradley's books should have stopped coming out when she died, but yet I at the same time love the Avalon books and would love to continue to see where the story takes us.

So, my question to other readers, do you think that books should cease with the death of the author, or do you think that people that are familiar with the series and the author should continue them? Or, even random people that just feel that the series should continue?

Howdy Strangers! I know that everything has been quiet on here, but starting today, I am going to try and post more! First up, I have a challenge of sorts that I came up with. I cleaned off my shelves, finding some fantasy books that have been sitting there for quite some time, and the plan is to read at least one of them every month. I have plenty of other fantasy books, though, so hopefully I will review more than one a month. So, without further ado, the list.

Mass Market:

1. Lady of the Forest by Jennifer Roberson
2. The Catsworld Portal by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
3. Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop
4. Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
5. The Grand Ellipse by Paula Volsky
6. Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper
7. Enchantment by Orson Scott Card
8. The Sun, the Moon and the Stars by Steven Brust
9. Sisters of the Raven by Barbara Hambly
10.Mammoth by John Varley
11.The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
12.Tailchaser's Song by Tad Williams


1. Lyonesse by Jack Vance
2. Pride of Kings by Judith Tarr
3. The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley
4. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

About this blog

Welcome to Twisted Kingdom - a review site for science fiction and fantasy books.

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About Me

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Since I was a little girl I have been fascinated with books. Early photos show me with a book in hand, even if it was not exactly my reading level... My first word was a made-up word meaning 'book', actually. I suppose I had my priorities at an early age... Over the years my interest in books has become one of the defining features of who I am as a person. You can probably call me a bookworm. While I have other interests, reading will always be the one I talk about the most, even if I am not focusing on it as much as I used to.