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Once Upon Now

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An exclusive collection of new modern tales with a fantastical twist, from some of the most beloved writers on Wattpad.

Discover this anthology of everyday stories influenced by fairytales and mythology—from ten Wattpad authors, all voted by the site’s users, featuring your favorite celebrities, all with a touch of fantasy and whimsy. If you enjoyed the collection Imagines, you’ll love Once Upon Now!

Truth Be Told by Danielle Banas
Of Sirens and Beasts by Mikaela Bender
Why Yes, Bluebeard, I'd Love to by J. M. Butler
My Love God Went to Hawaii and All I Got Was This Lousy Papaya by Debra Goelz
Hooded by Shannon Klare
Between Earth and Sky by R. S. Kovach
Sleeping Beauty Syndrome by Ali Novak
The Friend Zone Promposal by Tammy Oja
Home-School Hair by Christine Owen
Awake by Jesse Sprague

320 pages, Paperback

First published October 11, 2016

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About the author

Danielle Banas

3 books194 followers
Danielle Banas is the author of THE SUPERVILLAIN AND ME and THE GOOD FOR NOTHINGS. She earned a degree in communication from Robert Morris University, where she spent slightly too much time daydreaming about new characters instead of paying attention in class. When she isn't writing, Danielle can be found loudly singing show tunes, spouting off Disney World trivia, and snuggling with her puppy. She lives in her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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5 stars
88 (32%)
4 stars
54 (19%)
3 stars
64 (23%)
2 stars
42 (15%)
1 star
26 (9%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 64 reviews
Profile Image for Ali Novak.
Author 9 books1,929 followers
October 11, 2016
I might be slightly biased... but I think this anthology collection is pretty magical!
Profile Image for R.S..
Author 6 books37 followers
August 17, 2016
I read all of these stories in their unedited versions during the initial Wattpad/Target contest. The authors skillfully reimagined some quite famous and other lesser-known myths and fairytales into a modern setting, giving unexpected twists and surprises along the way. You'll find humor and romance in most, but - faithful to many of the original tales - there's also a bit of darkness, too.
Profile Image for Jesse Sprague.
Author 23 books18 followers
October 14, 2016
I've had the privilege to read through all of these wonderful stories and I was floored by each and every one. The best thing about anthologies, for me, is getting to see how different writers will go in such vastly different directions with the same subject matter. And this collection impressed me both by having stories that were different in style but by covering a range of the fairytales I grew up loving!
Profile Image for Kristin Jacques.
Author 29 books263 followers
October 29, 2016
What a dazzling collection of updated fairy tales! The Seven Swans told as a Native American coming of age tale, the Ugly Duckling as a sweet and wonderful promposal, flesh eating sirens vs football players, a Hawaiian twist on Princess and the Pea, oh and did I mention the papayas? Everything from Blue Beard to Sleeping Beauty is covered in this collection of modern fairy tales, which was a thoroughly entertaining read!
Profile Image for Amber Bryant.
Author 8 books46 followers
October 7, 2016
This is a fantastic, exciting collection featuring re-imagined fairy tales by a talented group of authors. There's a little bit of something for everyone in Once Upon Now: humor, adventure, magic, and of course... romance! I'm impressed by the overall quality and cohesiveness of the anthology. A treat for all fairy tale lovers and anyone else who enjoys a tale well told.
Profile Image for Darly.
Author 3 books57 followers
October 5, 2016
If you enjoy a good fairy tale retelling, this is the book for you! Every story in this collection is uniquely its own, written by a diverse group of impressive and talented authors. It's an easy, fun read and an excellent way to discover new writers!
Profile Image for Vic James.
Author 5 books702 followers
October 5, 2016
There is something for everyone in this delightfully varied and imaginative anthology of fairy-tale retellings. The genre is hot right now, thanks to everything from Marissa Meyer's LUNAR CHRONICLES to Lexa Hillyer's forthcoming SPINDLE FIRE, and for this anthology Simon&Schuster has turned to some of the most popular writers of Wattpad, the superpowered social reading and writing website. The result is a fresh and often funny set of stories that riff on tales from Pinocchio to The Princess and the Pea.

The latter, 'My Love God Went to Hawaii and All I Got Was This Lousy Papaya', is by Debra Goelz, whose also published in the IMAGINES anthology, and it has her distinctive Rick-Riordan-for-Grownups wit and screwball inventiveness. Opening the anthology is JM Butler's spirited tale in which Bluebeard discovers he's no match for a feisty modern girl. Other tales include RS Kovach's First Nations spin on The Six Swans and a sweet promposal-gone-wrong (then right) tale from Tammy Oja.

Then there are the darker tales: the boys of a high-school football team get more than they bargained for in Mikaela Bender's siren story, and in Ali Novak's haunting story, Rory Briar is a 'sleeping beauty' in an Upper West Side tower, 'cursed' by her rare neurological condition. Whether you prefer your fairy tales sweet, sassy, or tinged with sadness, ONCE UPON NOW will have a story to suit.

*I received this ARC at NYCWattCon
Profile Image for M.C. Roman.
Author 5 books63 followers
October 7, 2016
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this collection of stories! I loved how each author turned a classic fairy tale into a modern retelling in such a unique and creative way. There is definitely something here for everyone. Huge props to this amazing group of talented authors. I highly recommend it!
Profile Image for Brink1314 Brink1314.
Author 4 books1 follower
October 7, 2016
This is a truly brilliant collection of fairy tale stories. They are so well written and original. I loved every single one from Bluebeard to Cupid, they were fantastic.

I'm excited to be seeing more books come out by Wattpad authors.
Profile Image for Amelia.
771 reviews17 followers
October 11, 2016
ONCE UPON NOW is an outstanding collection of classic fairytales retold using contemporary settings and a marvelous cast of characters. Whether the plot is mostly fantasy, contains some horror or is filled with much humor, the story is guaranteed to entertain until the often surprising conclusion. Assorted fables are included in the dissimilar stories, while several are only linked to a timeless tale from our childhood. There is also a romantic aspect to many of the stories, sometimes understated but the focus of others. The writing of these ten Wattpad authors constantly captures the imagination with their notable contributions to ONCE UPON NOW.

A wager with a good friend has Emeline saying she will agree to anything asked of her during a 24 hour period, because she seems too predictable. But sometimes consenting to everything that crops up can have unforeseen costs. “Why Yes, Bluebeard, I’d Love To” by J. M. Butler is darkly horrific yet has surprising humor. Several fairytales are incorporated into the story, causing me to grin at the author’s cleverness.

After having little contact with anyone while growing up, Zoe meets a boy at her new job who inspires numerous fantasizes. Then one impetuous decision could change her whole life. Filled with emotional thoughts, “Home-School Hair” by Christine Owen is frequently touching. I really enjoyed seeing the transformation of Zoe and what it meant for her future.

To make certain their son gets married soon, his rich parents come up with manipulative scheme. When Cupid and another powerful being become involved in the plan, chaos ensues. With lots of secrets and a number of likable characters, “My Love God Went to Hawaii and All I Got Was This Lousy Papaya” is constantly engaging. Debra Goelz has created a humorous tale with lively Gods and some devious humans.

A man desperately wants to make sure the woman that he loves has a fulfilling life once more. Yet for Crane to make this miracle happen for Rose could have dire consequences. “Awake” by Jesse Sprague is a haunting story about the meaning of true love. I was deeply moved by the poignancy of each profoundly moving scene, where feelings are realistically expressed with much passion.

Not wanting to make an inappropriate remark, the comments Leo says usually include a lie. When this trait puts him in danger, being truthful could either make his life better or add further peril. A very original world is created for “Truth Be Told”, where various fairytales are featured with much imagination. Danielle Banas interweaves humor, real life situations and intriguing characters all throughout her story.

Life for Mira is typical for a teenager living in Alaska. After a terrible disaster strikes and things seem hopeless, she learns that Native American legends may actually be true after all. Heartfelt and packed with emotion, “Between Earth and Sky” by R. S. Kovach is affectingly intense. I quickly became caught up in what was happening to Mira, and I anxiously waited to see what would be the outcome.

To not be noticed by anyone is always Mallory’s goal, but she secretly dreams of her friend Trevor finally realizing they would be a great couple. When it comes time for their high school prom, he unfortunately has someone else in mind to ask. A fun retelling of how a person can miss what is right in front of them, and all it takes is a few minor changes. “The Friend Zone Promposal” by Tammy Oja had me smiling and hoping for the best.

When a school football team needs to improve, their coach wants them to learn ballet skills from a group of sisters. But when Cal and his teammates show up, it appears the girls want to do more than teach the boys coordination. “Of Sirens and Beasts” by Mikaela Bender is a heartrending story creatively connected to the myth about sirens. Cal and his teammates find out firsthand what the mysterious sisters have in store for them, and I definitely found it interesting.

As a journalist for her school newspaper, Annie is inquisitive and determining who has recently stolen some items is her current project. As she tries to prove her hunches, the facts uncovered are not what she predicted. A very inventive story with lots of Robin Hood references, and I especially enjoyed all the similar names. Innovative and exciting, “Hooded” by Shannon Klare keeps your attention.

Upon receiving the news that she has a disease with no cure, Rory felt as though her future was very bleak. But during the latest episodes where the illness takes over her body and mind, she dreams of a prince who wants to save her. “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome” by Ali Novak has plenty of genuine feelings and comes across as believable. I really came to care for the main couple.

Received copy from publisher - 4.5 Stars
Profile Image for Gabriela Cabezut.
Author 13 books82 followers
October 4, 2016
I first found out about this stories through Wattpad, and I loved them all! It's amazing to see how fairy tales can be as contemporary as in a promposal or a couple of spies eager to see their son take over their empire!
I'm looking forward to hold the paperback in my hands and enjoy it with a warm cup of coffee!
Profile Image for Josie Demuth.
Author 5 books37 followers
October 4, 2016
I read these tales on wattpad and am so excited for this book. They are not just a case of Cinderella with a cell phone but so much more imaginative than that. 'My Love God went to Hawaii and all I got was this Lousy papaya' is amongst my faves. Highly recommend for all ages...
Profile Image for Cyril Bunt.
2 reviews1 follower
October 4, 2016
To have the ability to own a copy of this book with authors of this calibre is a phenomenal opportunity. To select a favourite story will be a very hard task indeed. Put simply, I cannot wait to read this from cover to cover.
Profile Image for Lavinia Leigh.
Author 7 books9 followers
October 4, 2016
What does a modern day fairytale look like? Here's the answer in this fun, unique, and thoroughly enjoyable collection of short stories you're never going to be able to put down.
Profile Image for Mikaela Bender.
Author 1 book26 followers
October 9, 2016
These stories are beautiful and enchanting. I've always been a lover of fairy tale retellings, and this anthology is the icing on the cake. If you want to quickly fall in love with characters and rediscover your favorite fairy tales, this is the book for you.
Profile Image for Karim Soliman.
Author 14 books105 followers
October 9, 2016
A fantastic collection of 'modernized' fairy tales by a group of talented writers. The beta version of these books are already on Wattpad, and are already amazing. Can't wait for the officially published version.
1 review
October 12, 2016
Once Upon Now is exactly what I want in a book. It is packed with well written re-imaginings of stories we all know and love. Find it on shelves as a romance but don't back away from it because of that. It has science fiction, Native American, romance, young adult and much more. When you open this anthology and start reading, be prepared for tears, laughter and thought provoking moments.

Every story in this book is a good read, but two of them stood out. 'Awake' by Jesse Sprague is a hauntingly lovely story of science and true love. 'Between Earth and Sky' by R S Kovach is a gripping Native American retelling of the Six Swans.

I read all the way through in one sitting because I just couldn't put it down. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,401 reviews6 followers
October 14, 2016
Okay, I have only read a few of the stories featured in this anthology on Wattpad, but I really enjoyed the ones I read. And I really wanted some of them (like Ali Novak's) to keep going or at least to give me a bit more meat so I knew how things wrapped up.

Well worth a read though.

And it seems I'm getting my wish as Novak is putting her efforts into a novel of her story. Yay!
Profile Image for Katie J Schwartz.
404 reviews22 followers
February 25, 2017
OK, first off---what is the deal with the title of this book? Once Upon Now? Why not Once Upon a Now? Both titles make equal amounts of sense (none), so I feel like you might as well strive for parallelism.


This is a collection of short stories. Fairy tales retold. Reimagined. Fractured. Hashed and rehashed. Ordinarily, with a short story collection, I would do individual mini-reviews of each story. I've decided not to do that, because to be frank, I don't have a ton of nice things to say. Instead, I'm going to explain my overall low rating with a list of recurring issues that I noticed in multiple stories. If you'd like to hear my critique of an individual piece, you can PM me.

List of Recurring Issues that I Noticed in Multiple Stories:

1) Uneven pacing. Many of the stories in Once Upon Now devoted rather sprawling space to set-up, only to crush the rising action, climax, and falling action into the last few pages. On a related note, several stories suffered from deus ex-machina as well: The resolution came out of nowhere, and wrapped things up way too conveniently.
2) Not enough character development. There were many many "quirky" characters throughout this book. Not a problem in and of itself, but when there's not enough character development, "quirky" does a pretty quick somersault into "annoying."
3) Too much stuff, not enough space. A lot of these stories attempted to use upwards of 3-5 different inspirations and references. Dude, it's a short story. Pick one, maybe two---otherwise the story ends up feeling cluttered, and the writer ends up looking like they're incapable of reining themselves in.
4) Cringe-worthy pop culture references. Sorry, but nobody was slick enough to pull this off without garnering an eyeroll from me.
5) World-building that feels slapdash. Look, I'm not saying that it all definitely WAS slapdash, but short stories are just not the place for complex world-building. There's not enough room, and you end up losing important things, like, umm . . . good pacing and character development.

But the main problem that I had with this book? It felt like a chore to read. I read it all because I wanted so badly to give all the stories and authors a fair shake, but I dreaded picking it up.

Two Stars: This book was not good for me. I can (probably) understand why someone else might like it, but I didn't. I won't be recommending it to anyone.

I received my copy of Once Upon Now through a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway, in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Eugenia Ward.
11 reviews
March 8, 2017
A fun read. Some stories were better than others of course. I wish a few of them were longer, like Truth Be Told by Danielle Banas.
On our way to our sister's wedding, my sister and I stopped at a mall and had to spend forever in Barnes and Noble. Just as we were about to leave I spotted the lone shoe and curly script title on the cover of this book and knew I had to buy it. Once Upon Now, modern tales with a fantastical twist? Yup, fairy tales and romance, sign me up.
Profile Image for Katherine.
437 reviews3 followers
April 1, 2019
Not gonna lie: This was a pretty terrible collection of short stories. I’m actually astounded that it was published. A few of these stories were at least a bit engaging, but the vast majority were poorly written, boring and nonsensical. Most read like high school creative writing projects. The fairy tale theme isn’t even noticeable in most of them. My favorite was the end story, Sleeping Beauty Syndrome. It was well written with an interesting dual storyline that actually had me rooting for the main character, something none of the other stories managed to do. I’m actually keeping the book on my shelf specifically for this one story, so I might be checking out more of Ali Novak’s works.

Other than that, Hooded was okay (I really liked that there was no romance in it), and Truth Be Told was cute, but it needed a lesson in subtlety. The magical realism of Between Earth and Sky and the sci fi aspect of Awake was interesting, but both needed a lot more development to fully come together. And the others… yikes. The writing in most of these stories was just terrible, full of stilted dialogue and scene setting, weird plot development, and strange supernatural tones that didn’t quite fit with the storyline.

So overall, giving this collection a 1.5. Glad I held out from buying it new and found it at the Dollar store instead.
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 1 book44 followers
October 20, 2016
These original and creative versions of beloved stories were clever and fun. I found myself flying through the book and was sorry to see it end. The stories incorporate adventure, humor, fantasy and horror, so there’s a little something for a variety of reader tastes.

One of the things I appreciated most about this collection is how eclectic and unique each story is. If you enjoy these stories, you can check out other stories written by them on Wattpad. Some of these authors I had read on Wattpad prior to buying this book, but after reading it, I've discovered some new talented authors to follow. I highly recommend this book!
Profile Image for Laura Tyunaitis.
25 reviews
September 5, 2017
I really wanted to like this book of short stories but it was just awful. "Home School Hair", "My Love God...", and "Awake" were the only stories I enjoyed. The rest seemed to drag on or simply be terrible. Many of the stories were a lot darker than anticipated too - I was expecting light-hearted romance. Being a person who can't leave a book unfinished, I picked up and put down this book all summer. I finally gave up after skimming the last story or two. Really disappointing.
5 reviews
February 21, 2019
I got sick of this book after a little while. In fact, I almost DNF'd it. The first story was very interesting, and I loved it the most out of all the stories in the book. But after that, the book seemed very dry in my opinion. I was confused often while reading, which is something that I don't usually find myself feeling. However, the few stories that I did like was written very nice, and didn't play off of the usual plots that fairy tale retellings go off of.
Profile Image for Hannah.
226 reviews21 followers
September 14, 2018
There were so many great ideas in this book, but there was one big flaw in all of them: they weren’t long enough. They all felt very stunted; if each author had more time and page space, I feel like these stories would have been a lot better. There was so much potential that felt wasted, it almost makes me want to write my own extended universe for each one.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,044 reviews19 followers
March 19, 2018
I stumbled onto this at Dollar Tree, and picked it up thinking my 13YO would probably enjoy it, but I wanted to skim it first...

I did indeed skim it. Found a few enjoyable, a few MEH but no stand-outs. Quite clean (I probably wouldn't hand this to a 10YO, though, as there are a few statements along the lines of "Wouldn't it be awful to die a virgin?" and some pretty creepy imagery)
Profile Image for Claire.
490 reviews
January 4, 2017
I picked this up during a random Target run. I'm usually a sucker for fairy tale adaptations, but for most of these, the fairy tale thing was a squint and it's barely there theme. The stories had no depth and except for one or two no actual entertainment value. It was a chore to finish all of them.
Profile Image for Shani Asokan.
279 reviews17 followers
December 31, 2017
I love twisted fairytales, and this collection from wattapad was really good!

The modern setting was pretty cool, and it was interesting to see each author's twists and spins on the fairytale of their choice.

Displaying 1 - 30 of 64 reviews

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