Review: Twisted Tales Series by Maureen McGowan

Maureen McGowan's website here // C:NW $8.95 from {amazon} // SB: VS $8.95 from {amazon}
Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books; Reprint edition (April 1, 2011)
Paperback: 320 pages
Source: Premier Virtual Author Book Tours {here}

Cinderella: Ninja Warrior (Twisted Tales #1)
In this fast-paced story full of adventure and romance, Cinderella is more than just a servant girl waiting for her prince—she's a tough, fearless girl who is capable of taking charge of a dangerous situation. Seeking to escape the clutches of her evil stepmother, Cinderella perfects her ninja skills and magic talents in secret, waiting for the day when she can break free and live happily ever after. In a special twist, readers have the opportunity to make key decisions for Cinderella and decide where she goes next—but no matter the choice; the result is a story unlike any fairy tale you've ever read!

My Thoughts:

CINDERELLA: NINJA WARRIOR is exactly what the title promises: fun, original, and deliciously twisted. So twisted, in fact, that I really hesitate to call it a fairytale retelling. It’s much more like a new fairytale reimagining, unless in the traditional fairytale, I somehow missed the part where Cinderella leaps across shifting blocks in her ball gown and glass slippers. Oh, and the page where she walks calmly across broken glass? Right.

When thinking of this book, I’m in serious danger of only reviewing it with one word: fun. CINDERELLA: NINJA WARRIOR defines light fun. New crazy-but-awesome ideas are constantly being introduced, and while there isn’t much depth, the scope is truly impressive (ninjas and magic?). The balance between background and action was perfect, dull moments be banished.

In terms of characters, I applaud the fact that Cinderella actually has character. As much of a closet Disney fan as I am, let’s face it: Disney princesses are not known for their unwavering courage and kickass-bility. So it’s refreshing to see Cinderella not only adept at physical defense, but also independent and freed from the whole “love at first sight, prince sweeps me away,” one-chance-only deal. I give major points to her for refusing the swoon at the prince’s feet.

Having already talked about content, I can’t neglect to mention the “choose-your-story” aspect that makes CINDERELLA: NINJA WARRIOR so unique, and so reminiscent of when I was six and believed myself to be the queen of choosing my own endings. The novelty of the furious page-flipping definitely adds to the fun factor, and though it gives an idea of just how short the story is (divides page number by two), the light-hearted magic likely would wear away over the course of another hundred pages. My only grumble is that sometimes I would say “no wand,” for instance, and she’d get one anyways... which doesn’t quite give the same heady feeling of power, but it’ll do.

Overall, CINDERELLA: NINJA WARRIOR is a book that flows easily in both writing and plot, and is like literary whipped cream for fairytale fans of all ages.

My Rating: 4 out of 5


Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer (Twisted Tales #2)
In this thrilling story full of adventure and romance, Sleeping Beauty is more than just a lonely princess waiting for her prince—she's a brave, tenacious girl who never backs down from a challenge. With vampire-slaying talents that she practices in secret, Sleeping Beauty puts her courage to the test in the dark of night, fighting evil as she searches for a way to break the spell that has cut her off from her family. In a special twist, readers have the opportunity to make key decisions for Sleeping Beauty and decide where she goes next—but no matter the choice; the result is a story unlike any fairy tale you've ever read!

My Thoughts:

(To avoid being redundant, I’ll be concentrating on my differing thoughts on CINDERELLA: NINJA WARRIOR and SLEEPING BEAUTY: VAMPIRE SLAYER.)

If CINDERELLA: NINJA WARRIOR was the whipped cream, SLEEPING BEAUTY: VAMPIRE SLAYER was much of the same… but a few days expired. In areas where CINDERELLA: NINJA WARRIOR shines, this book glows dimly. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still enjoyable, but the characters, plot, and originality aren’t quite up to par.

My main issue was by far the romance. Sleeping Beauty’s tale is centered around the necessity of finding true love’s kiss, so it’s not surprise that romance has a greater presence in SLEEPING BEAUTY: VAMPIRE SLAYER. And that’s fine. Rather, my problem lies in the Sleeping Beauty Lucette’s romantic interest. Admittedly, she doesn’t have many romantic prospects, considering all the humans are asleep at night, but I never felt that their love was genuine with that fairytale ability to last forever-and-a-day. When her love does profess his feelings, I was literally waiting for him to pop out with “JK, I only think you’re hot!” It sounds crude, but I'm just glad that my opinion of him transitioned from dislike to apathy. He does later show some redeeming qualities, but the way he was introduced never let me shake the feeling of shallowness and general... unease. That feeling when someone is simply too nice, that there has to be burried darkness.  

That being said, SLEEPING BEAUTY: VAMPIRE SLAYER still features fluid writing and fun plot. Making Sleeping Beauty a vampire slayer was absolutely ingenious; by making the kingdom and Lucette fall asleep at different times (rather than all the time), we see another Disney princess that actually does something, and what else is awake at night but a vampire? The night undoubtedly places limitations on plot, yet despite the repetitive cycles of slaying-after-slaying, Maureen McGowan still manages to bring in some original ideas, such as vampire rose allergies and vampire politics. All-in-all, I’m happy with how she managed to work the plot to give it that twist.

My Rating: 3 out of 5

Bottom Line: I can't stress enough how fun Maureen McGowan's TWISTED TALES are. They're refreshingly brief, unique, and so, so twisted that I never found myself able to predict what was coming next. Great reads for fairytale lovers!

Cover: I actually like them. They're simple but suit the stories, really bringing out the originality and playfulness with the interesting costumes and bright colors. The more I look at them, the more perfect I think they are. Not jaw-dropping gorgeous, but brilliant all the same.