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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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3.76  ·  Rating details ·  2,034 Ratings  ·  113 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
...more
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

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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 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
...more
Jamie R
Mar 28, 2010 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
...more
Kara
Jan 11, 2012 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
-k The Lady Critic
Nov 29, 2010 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
...more
Shelley
Jan 06, 2009 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,
...more
Annie
Feb 03, 2010 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
...more
Lucy A. March
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
...more
Craig
Mar 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
McKiernan wrote his re-telling of this fairy tale before it became the thing to do for all fantasy authors. I enjoyed reading it, but not as much as the Mithgar books; the language was a little more flowery and French than it needed to be, and the story was longer than the material. Still, McKiernan presented a complex kick-ass female fantasy character before that was the thing everyone had to do, too, and there are some fantastic adventure sequences. (And I always love books with bears on the c ...more
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
Elfdart
Jul 28, 2010 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
Carol
Oct 13, 2012 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
Oct 25, 2011 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
...more
Jen
Mar 14, 2011 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
...more
Christine
Dec 04, 2011 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 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
Jul 24, 2010 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
Anya Kawka
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The problem with the plot is that it didn't develop. The problem with the main character is that she didn't develop. It was very male-gaze and objectifying of Camille... she was a flat character, a vapid princess type the whole way through.
Why was that pointless chirping sparrow pooping on her shoulder the entire 391 days of her journey? It never came in handy.

Started out like a fun fairy tale, and I was hoping for some adventure and some meaningful moral at the end, but it just fell flat.

Lik
...more
Erin
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is was recommended to me because it’s a retelling of a fairy tale, but I should probably just read the original story, as the novel had elements I think I recognized from several stores. It was Beauty & the Beast, & that one with the Bear (Snow White & Rose Red maybe? What’s with girls being white & red?) & Psyche (or Bluebeard, same story but with more murders) & The Back of the North Wind, which I only attempted to read once & couldn’t follow. The language & ...more
Kate
Painfully, amateurishly overwritten to the point it's unbearable. Totally fails to capture a flowing, archaic fairy tale tone and tries so hard the pages bleed. Trust me, it's grotesque. The random French is also... there.

I wanted to read it anyway because I was still interested (so hard to come by fairy tale retellings that actually novelise fairy tales without lame, half-formed attempts at deconstruction), but then it throws in some bizarre apologies for its setting and I gave up more and more
...more
Melissa Riley
Looooooooooong book with a very VERY repetitive story, but entertaining enough. I liked the main character, and the writing was fun and the locations/lore developed in the book were unique and interesting. I especially liked the description of the River of Time and the Fates. Overall, I'm glad I read it, but it's not in my top 20.
Valerie
Meh. Was okay, but it really gets bogged down with her journeys, which doesn't keep the book moving as it should. I would have given it 3 stars, but there's sex in it that I skipped over. I also didn't care much for McKiernan's take on this fairytale. Was planning on reading the whole series, but now I'm going to skip.
Ruth E.
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fairy-tale, fantasy
I liked the use of older language. It seemed to go along with the story well. Her adventures were interesting and kept drawing her closer to the prince, but there were plenty of troubles along the way which made it, of course, even more interesting.
Sara Holloway
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A splendid retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story. Mr. McKiernan can certainly spin a yarn!
Mark Habinski
Have enjoyed several of his other books, but this one was a little flat by comparison.
Julie
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed the book, with the exception of two references to bestiality that didn't need to be in there, if you ask me. Otherwise, it was a great book and I loved it.
SaraKat
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fairy tale that the author inserted realism back into by putting in the non-fairy tale parts such as peeing and sex. Good story!
Ashley
Oct 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-buy
I really did think that the plot was enjoyable and the writing style quite unique from anything else I have read before. Admittedly there were some things I didn't like as much, but all in all it was a nice take on one of my favorite fairytales.
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
...more
Kelly
Dec 17, 2009 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
...more
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337 followers
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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