ONCE UPON A WINTER'S NIGHT

Dennis L. McKiernan, Author
Dennis L. McKiernan, Author . Roc $23.95 (496p) ISBN 978-0-451-45840-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 413 pages - 978-0-451-45854-4
Open Ebook - 432 pages - 978-1-101-11242-7
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 432 pages - 978-1-101-11413-1
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Classic fairy tales are classic for a reason, and in this exuberant retelling of the story of "Beauty and the Beast" the theme of true love conquering all obstacles comes out strong and clear. McKiernan (Silver Wolf; Black Falcon; etc.) fleshes out the Andrew Lang version of the tale with a French setting, numerous battles, enigmatic riddles and fairly clean sex. Camille, the sixth and last daughter of a destitute farmer, lives at the border of the land between mortals and faery. One winter night Camille receives the chance of a lifetime when Alain, prince of Summerwood (in the land of faery), asks her family for her hand in marriage. The story continues, as per the classic tale, with Camille discovering that Alain is a bear during the day because of a curse placed on him by a disgusting troll. Our heroine, who is sweet and guileless with only a hint of cloying Pollyanna-ishness, sets out alone on a nearly doomed quest, but admirably keeps going no matter what. Some of the plot is clichéd, but this has more to do with the familiarity of the story than with the writing, which is never less than graceful. The ending (including a soap opera–like roundup of what happens to Camille's sisters) leaves the door open for a sequel and another quest. Overall, this is a solid, well-rounded fantasy that readers will enjoy as much on a summer beach as on a winter's night. (July 10)

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