I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Dead Upon a Time by Elizabeth Paulson
Published by Scholastic Inc. on August 25th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fairy Tales & Folklore, General, Fantasy & Magic, Horror & Ghost Stories
Buy on Amazon
It's a fairy-tale nightmare . . . One girl is kept in a room where every day the only food she's given is a poisoned apple. Another is kept in a room covered in needles -- and if she pricks her finger, she'll die. Then there are the brother and sister kept in a cell that keeps getting hotter and hotter. . . A sinister kidnapper is on the loose in Kate's world. She's not involved until one day she heads to her grandmother's house in the woods -- and finds her grandmother has also been taken. Already an outcast, Kate can't get any help from the villagers who hate her. Only Jack, another outsider, will listen to what's happened. Then a princess is taken, and suddenly the king is paying attention -- even though the girl's stepmother would rather he didn't. It's up to Kate and Jack to track down the victims before an ever after arrives that's far from happy.
I essentially went into Elizabeth Paulson’s Dead Upon A Time totally blind. I grabbed it from my shelves because it was exceedingly thin and threw it on my Dewey Readathon pile. I figured based on the cover that it might be a creepy sort of read which would tie in well to my Halloween feelings these days. Sometimes it is good to go into books blind, but with a current cumulative average of 2.89 star rating on goodreads, I am feeling like perhaps I should have skipped this one, given that I felt similar – it was okay, but I was not super impressed or invested.
Dead Upon A Time is about a main character named Kate Hood. Kate’s grandmother, Nan, lives away from town in the woods because she’s ‘Uncommon’ which is a bad thing according to the villagers. One day while bringing in groceries to her grandmother, Kate is attacked by wolves, and survives, but discovers that her grandmother has been kidnapped. So, she runs back to the village and because everyone sucks, no one answers her call for help. No one except, that is, childhood friend and current exile, Jack the Giant Slayer. So, going off of some tapestries with creepy clues, the two are charged by the king to find not only Nan, but also the king’s daughter Ella – for a sizeable reward. I think maybe this was pitched as a fairy tale version of Saw, which yeah, there’s torture, but you guys, this is published by Scholastic so it is not quite overwhelming.
Kate is a pretty resourceful main character. She has an unfortunate lot in life, given that the villagers do not trust her because of her family line. Yet, she tries. She works hard and rents out a room in the village. She does not, actually, live with her grandmother. Her parents are long gone, so she is pretty much an orphan as well. I actually did not mind Kate. She is fine by me, regarding her heroine status. Kate is definitely one thing that Elizabeth Paulson’s Dead Upon A Time had going for it.
Another thing that was a positive part of the book was the romance. It is the kind that I like – where the heroine does not think he likes her, but he totally does, but she is so oblivous and she has her feelings for him the whole time. It is super adorable, despite the way that Jack does not seem to care about the wellbeing of the horses in the same way that Kate does. Still, this was a nice treat to the book and the scenes with the will they won’t they helped out with the pacing.
Unfortunately, Dead Upon A Time took me forever to get through. I am not sure why the pacing was off for me. I guess even though I liked reading about Kate, I was not compelled by her. I thought that the journey part of the book took way too long. Then we get to this boss battle, in essence, and it is so short. I could have done with more action. Also more kissing.
Other Reviews Of Dead Upon A Time by Elizabeth Paulson:
The Quiet Concert – “an imaginative, dark, and creepy blend of classic fairy tales in a page-turning thriller”
Once Upon A Twilight – “It is definitely a unique book.”
My Friends Are Fiction – “a creative and unique look at the classic fairy-tale”