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Once Upon a Winter's Night (Faery, #1)
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Once Upon a Winter's Night (Faery Series #1)

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3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,823 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review

A magnificent blend of fairy tale and high adventure, Dennis McKiernan's Once Upon a Winter's Night is based on a Norse tale that the author read as a young child in The Blue Fairy Book . This version is rather longer than the original 11 pages, and McKiernan has done such a wonderful job fleshing out the fundamental story that it is easy to
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ebook, 432 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by Penguin Group US (first published July 1st 2001)
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Book Worm there is a part in the book that is inappropriate. I would call this a new adult book but you can swing it as a young adult book. I would rate this…morethere is a part in the book that is inappropriate. I would call this a new adult book but you can swing it as a young adult book. I would rate this book like PG-14 (less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Chris
First, let me say that I have read McKiernan's other work, his Mithgar series, and liked it. I hated this book. I love fairy tales, and I love fairy tale retellings, but this novel doesn't really add anything to the tale or re-invent the tale like other authors, such as McKinley, Lee or De Lint, do. The main character is boring and dull, and the fairy tale cliches are over done. Not only are the older siblings bad, they are really bad, even worse than the original tale ("East of the Sun, West of ...more
Mary-Beth
Jun 09, 2009 Mary-Beth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I like East O' the Sun, West O' the Moon. In fact, I like it a lot. Imagine my surprise at how much I hated this book. The style of writing is lamentable. I can't stand it when an author tries to imitate some kind of medieval formal speech in dialogue. It's stiff and dreadful. If I wanted to read that kind of language, I'd go after the real thing.

For example, the author is altogether too fond of ending a great many sentences with "or so Camille did think." Every time she says something she also
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Jamie R
Mar 28, 2010 Jamie R rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Very flat characters and some odd sexual stuff (the troll princess flashing her apparently ugly crotch, a woman being raped by dogs, which had no relevance to the story ...)

Camille goes on a journey for more than a year to find her lost love, and it's so disappointing when they actually find each other. It's just like, "hey". I kept expecting her to suddenly realize her independence and kick him to the curb (he did, after all, purchase her from her father). But then I remembered that she's a com
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Shelley
Jan 22, 2009 Shelley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Shelley by: Blythe
The writer seems to have set out to tell a story in the tradition of fondly-remembered childhood fairy tales to pay them homage, in an extended format for adults. The problem is it’s not longer on content or substance, it’s just longer.

It’s formulaic and predictable. It has all (and I do mean ALL) the requisite characters and plots including but not limited to enchanted lands, a prince, a damsel in distress, an ugly (step)mother, goblins, unicorns, giants, sorceresses, witches, wizards, dwarves,
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Kara
Jan 16, 2012 Kara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

Top 5 Reasons I Am Giving This 1 Star

1. Hitler gets an unnecessary and undeserved shout out

2. Characters dance the minuet in pre-Christian France

3. The heroine is dumb as a box of rocks

4. The heroine can do stuff no one else can, despite the fact she is dumb as a box of rocks

5. My cold was getting better when I started this book and now its worse: this book literally made me sick
Annie
Feb 03, 2010 Annie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one,
Shelves: never-reread
It was terrible. It did little to nothing new with the fairy tale (it's set in France instead, but it makes no impact other than adding in french words where it wasn't needed), the language was terribly flowery and unnecessary, and I despised the characters.
Camille is the card board cut out from fairy tales; beautiful and still very, very kind despite alllllll the hardships she's been through. How she survived with beautiful, unblemished, baby soft skin after living in a shack that's exposed to
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Lucy March
Jul 22, 2015 Lucy March rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I'm not going to lie and say this book is not both pretentious and flowery and at times melodramatic, because it is all those things!

So much so, in fact, that I parodied this book (as a bad romance novel prop) in my Narnia/Hunger Games crossover fanfiction and as a passing joke in one of my Narnia spoof fics.

But, remarkably, it's also a very good read!

It's pretty, charming, at times dark and grim, and overall such a mentally visual treat. And, trust me, if you suspend your disbelief long enough
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-k The Lady Critic
Nov 29, 2010 -k The Lady Critic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
This was a book that I had bought at some random book booth at a small strip mall because the cover reminded me of the old fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon and I love the movie The Polar Bear King. Really, it’s as simple as that. I barely even read the back of the cover to see what it was really about.

Thankfully, it turned out to be some amazing money spent because not only is it a fantastic book – and a great adaptation of the fairy tale – but it opened the door to the rest of the s
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Benjamin Thomas
This morning I completed Once Upon A Winter's Night by Dennis McKiernan. This was not the book that I had really planned to read next...here's how it happened. I normally leave my current book on the dresser and grab it on the way out to work every day. I had been reading Way of the Wolf and was really looking forward to being able to read more on it during my lunch break that day. But I get up rather early and since it was still dark in the bedroom when I left, I grabbed the wrong book, one tha ...more
Carol
Oct 20, 2012 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what a lovely, fun book to read! I liken some books to sorbets served between courses of an elaborate meal, and this one falls into that category: it goes down easily, it's refreshing, and it clears your mental "palate" between deeper reads. I almost felt transported back to the Uncle Remus library on Gordon Street in Atlanta, nestled into a sling chair with the Blue Fairy book in my lap. The story is based on (and faithfully retells) the fairy tale "East of the Sun and West of the Moon". I ...more
Marla
Dec 03, 2011 Marla rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up at a used bookstore based on the author, I liked his Mithgar books, but didn't care for this book.

I had read some reviews here on goodreads that made me apprehensive, rightly so.

There was no sense of urgency, even though the heroine had a specific time frame in which to complete her quest. At some points it was overly descriptive, which was okay in and of itself, I liked the description of the Summerwood estate, but did nothing for moving the story along in a timely manner. Seve
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Elfdart
Jul 28, 2010 Elfdart rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
east of the sun and west of the moon is one of my preferred stories from mythology, and this book did it little to no justice. i didn’t connect with the heroine at all and at times felt like she was trying too hard and with not enough motivation. i felt that the author was making her out to be more clever and strong than she actually was, which is annoying. i mean, we all love strong, smart, courageous heroines, and because we love them we can tell when someone doesn’t fit the bill, however har ...more
Jen
Jan 27, 2013 Jen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Read a review that mentioned a woman being absurd in a very bad way by dogs. Decided to read this book anyway. Got to page 118, then skipped to end-ish, page 409. Sure enough, Camille's older sister married an old man for money. He had six dogs, who slept with them at night... Suffice it to say, this book will never be finished, I will NEVER pick up another book by this author and this particular copy will be chucked into the recycling bin.

The writing was also really, REALLY bad. Overly flowery
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David
Dec 31, 2014 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: completed
Once Upon a Winter's Night begins with a large white bear knocking on the door of a peasant family on a cold winter night. The family notices a document holder discovers that a noble wishes to marry one of their daughters, a beauty with golden hair and a marvelous golden voice as well. He promises a great bride price and the greedy mother encourages the wedding... And so, Camille sets off astride a huge white bear through the snow to the Land of Faery.

McKiernan writes this wonderful fantasy nove
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Xena Elektra
It's been years since I read this, so I only remember so many details. But this will always stand out to me as the book with the most potential to be an amazing retelling of East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

I love that fairy tale and this book had so much potential. Sadly the sensual, sexual, and sexist stuff ruined it for me. It seemed like every fantasy creature had this desire to flash their parts or stare at the MC's body. Most of it just seemed so pointless. But what really killed me wa
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Kathleen
I really enjoyed this one.

It is very much a 'retelling' of a fairytale (in this case, "East of the Sun and West of the Moon"); unlike Ella Enchanted or Daughter of the Forest, it doesn't especially break with the traditional form. It was very much a return to the hours during gradeschool spent buried in large volumes of fairytales: once upon a time, an utterly noble protagonist, a series of tests, a few unexpected twists, and a happily ever after.

In spite of this, here is something especially c
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Christine
Dec 04, 2011 Christine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have an emphatic dislike for pretentious books - and this one is ridiculously pretentious. It reads like fanfiction, complete with French phrases and accents, cardboard cut-out characters, really bad sex scenes, and the general impression that everyone in this book is Too Stupid To Live.

Oh, and there are sequels. Joy. I actually tossed this book when I finished it - and that almost never happens.
Jillian Benavidez
May 18, 2008 Jillian Benavidez rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't like this book; the concept is wonderful, but the author simply did not pull it off well. I have not read anything else by this particular author, but his skill seems lacking and I've no intent after reading this book to pick up anything further by him.
Sharon
Aug 03, 2010 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A charming retelling of an old fairy tale. Sometimes I wanted to smack Camille, the protagonist, but I do believe that's normal. :p
Tess
Feb 13, 2014 Tess rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, series
2.5 Stars.
this book could have been great. I usually love retellings of fairy tales.
Camille was an OK character - her innocence was a strength in the book, but annoying as personal trait.
Overall I liked the world, I liked all the characters Camille met, and it was a pretty good Quest.
Two things kept this book from being anything more than a 2.5 (or 3, via Goodreads). The first is the deliberate choice of the author to throw in random French words because he "felt" that East of The Sun, West of
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Deanna Anderson
Apr 14, 2014 Deanna Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book went from "maybe I'll pick it up one day, or give it away to someone without reading it" to "I love this book and am keeping it forever!"

I don't know why I didn't read this book before, it's been on my shelf for awhile now but finally picked it up and dove in. I really enjoyed this book, loved the writing still and the little interludes of French even though the fairy tale origin is Norse (I believe, I am not familiar with the original version).

I finished it in a weekend because once
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Kelly
Jan 11, 2010 Kelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Read this one years ago and enjoyed it while I was reading it, mostly because I've always been intrigued by the "East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon" fairy tale and there weren't a lot of retellings of it back then.

However, in retrospect, it left an unpleasant taste in my mouth. I couldn't put my finger on why, not for some time, but now--after nine years--it's pretty clear. Sexism. There are only a few things I remember about Once Upon a Winter's Night anymore, and here they are:

--A skeevy conver
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K. Lynn Adams
Apr 08, 2014 K. Lynn Adams rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Though the language was beautiful, it was tiresome. I could not get through the book, which is a real shame. I love the tale it is based off of, so the fact that this did not live up to it really upset me. Stay away from this novel unless you wish to be bored to tears.
Kenzi
Feb 02, 2016 Kenzi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
An intriguing fairytale!!

While many a novel centering around fairies and dragons center around a knight in shining armor in raging battle against a dragon for a trapped princess's hand in marriage, this fairytale proved the stereotype most definitely wrong.

Lady Camille, a heroine I will not soon forget, raged against trolls and monstrous beasts and nearly impossible to beat riddles told from the mouths of ancient Fae. But at last, the crofters daughter set her dear prince go and along with him,
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Melinda Weprin
Feb 14, 2015 Melinda Weprin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best retold fairy tales I've ever read. Well written enough to enjoy as an adult and wonderful for a young adult who enjoys fantasy and fairy tales from childhood.
Kelley Ross
Feb 15, 2011 Kelley Ross rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: high-fantasy
At first the stiff language of this novel distracted me from the actual tale, but I quickly got used to the "fairytale" language. I enjoyed watching Camille change throughout the book, and would definitely like to read more of the series.

I thought the romance bits were tastefully done, except a few odd instances towards the end of the book involving trolls and dogs. I also felt like more time should have been given to the relationship of Camille and Alain after they were reunited. They were so
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Brenda Knight
Feb 06, 2013 Brenda Knight rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. The tale and the many various characters were well thought out and very well written. There is good and evil, romance and suspense with plenty of action throughout.
The only reason it took me so long to read, is that I kept it in my automobile and only read a few pages at a time between appointments.
Toward the last quarter of the book, I brought it in the house to finish as I had to see what would happen next. So, I finished that last quarter very quickly.
This was a ve
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Kathleen Dixon
This classic fairy tale, retold, is rather delightful and a very pleasant read. If I was a little more inclined to like my characters so determinedly stereotyped I would have enjoyed it more, but I did find them a little too nice or a little too gruff or a little too ... Still, it's the genre, and McKiernan has done it well.

I quite like his of other languages to make the dialogue more interesting, and I thought the occasional use of an old-fashioned, poetic style of writing quite nice, though a
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Kristi Thompson
Charming, lovely fairy-tale. A retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon, with flavour of Beauty and the Beast, but even more of Cupid and Psyche. Not deep or memorable, but very nice indeed, lots of pretty little touches.

The one jarring note was his attempt at using an archaic style. He tried a bit too hard, I think, without having a real feel for how the language should flow. Dropping "did" into sentences at random doesn't really cover it.
Alexandria Mesa
Dec 19, 2013 Alexandria Mesa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great version of a well liked fairy tale. Dennis McKiernan does tend to be a little description heavy but I think it works well in this novel.
As a side note, there are five books in this series including the final book which involves all four of the couples. I haven't read the final one so I can't speak on that but the other three are not nearly as good as the first one. They're ok but the characters are not very memorable. I would compare it to the Fairy Godmother series by Mercedes
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McKiernan was born in Moberly, Missouri, where he lived until he served the U.S. Air Force for four years, stationed within US territory during the Korean War. After military service, he attended the University of Missouri and received a B.S. in electrical engineering in 1958 and an M.S. in the same field from Duke University in 1964. He worked as an engineer at AT&T, initially at Western Elec ...more
More about Dennis L. McKiernan...

Other Books in the Series

Faery Series (5 books)
  • Once Upon a Summer Day (Faery, #2)
  • Once Upon an Autumn Eve (Faery, #3)
  • Once Upon a Spring Morn (Faery, #4)
  • Once Upon a Dreadful Time (Faery, #5)

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