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!


I am glad that you enjoyed it! Now you will have to read the rest of the quartet.

Hehehe, yeah I am actually looking forward to the brother story since he seemed pretty cool. I just hope the heroine doesn't have the silly moments that Camille did like leaving all the money behind while she went out. LOL.

I like the cover. It reminds me of the kick ass polar bears in the movie version of Chronicles of Narnia. I love polar bears. :P

Gee I wonder why Ames, what with you practically living in the North Pole. LOL. :-P

I like polar bears as well and the one in this one is so awwwww....I loved it!

I thought this was the best out of the original four seasons, but the novels seem to decline in quality as they got along, at least for me. Perhaps it's only because I like East of the Sun, West of the Moon the best out of the fairy tales used in the novels.

What do you think of the most recent novel? I haven't checked it out yet, but I had such low hopes that even when I saw it, I didn't read.

I found the books go down hill too. I still haven't read three of them. I will one of these days, but it is taking me a while to work up the interest.

I Love this book, well, let me rephrase..I love the subtle fantasy romance between Camille, the Bear, and the uterly romantic Prince Alain. I fell in love with the fire between them, and wish the sequelle would reference them more. I agree the book got almost boring at times, and very repetitive, but the hopes of a firey reunion kept me reading on. Although I was kind of disapointed at the outcome, the romance was all that I was looking forward too, and the end lacked that. It noted a swift, single reunion, yet then the book ended. Im not interested in reading about another couple in peril, I want the lives of Camille and Prince Alain....maybe in the last book.

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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.