Once upon a Time …

“Once upon a time” – words that conjure up a world of magic and enchantment. Words that promise to bewitch and beguile and whisk you away to a fairytale world. But fairy tales don’t always end “… and they all lived happily ever after.” I remember very well being frightened by the stories in a big illustrated book of fairy tales when I was a child – maybe it was the pictures, or the words, or the combination of the two. Whatever it was, fairy tales are not always nice and comfortable, of the “are you sitting comfortably? then I’ll begin” variety. They can be scary …

It’s time once again for Carl’s Once Upon a Time Challenge VII, which began on Thursday, March 21st and continues until Friday, June 21st.

Carl writes that It’s not really a challenge, more of a reading and viewing event that encompasses four broad categories: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology, including the seemingly countless sub-genres and blending of genres that fall within this spectrum. The entire goal is to read good books, watch good television shows and movies, and most importantly, visit old friends and make new ones.

There are several ways to participate, and I’m choosing Quest the First:Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time categories. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology€¦or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

Quest 1

These are the books I’m choosing from, some of which I’ve had for ages and have never got round to reading and some of which are new ones which I’ve added during the last couple of years:

  • The Death of King Arthur – this is a translation of the 13th century French version of the Camelot legend.
  • The Ingoldsby Legends by Richard Harris Barham – a collection of myths, legends, ghost stories and poetry.
  • The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier – about a place between heaven and earth where everyone ends up after they die.
  • The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly – Twelve-year old David takes refuge in myths and fairytales.
  • Daughters of Fire by Barbara Erskine – a time slip novel focussed on the legends surrounding Cartimandua, a Celtic queen.
  • Helen of Troy by Margaret George – the myth narrated from Helen’s point of view.
  • Shadowland by C M Gray –  historical fantasy set in Dark Ages Britain.
  • The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland – a tale of witchcraft and pagan superstition.
  • Dreamwalker (The Ballad of Sir Benfro) by James Oswald – fantasy fiction – Welsh mythology and folklore.
  • The first four Merrily Watkins books by Phil Rickman –  The Wine of Angels, Midwinter of the Spirit, A Crown of Lights, and The Cure of Souls –  paranormal crime thrillers with supernatural and spiritual causes.
  • The Last Enchantment by Mary Stewart – a tale of Merlin and King Arthur and the third book in the Merlin trilogy. I read The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills years ago and don’t think I’ve ever read this one.
  • The Children of Hurin by J R R Tolkien – Tales of Middle-earth from times before The Lord of the Rings, set in the country that lay beyond the Grey Havens in the West.
  • The Hobbit by J R R  Tolkien – even though I’ve read The Lord of the Rings trilogy several times I’ve not read this!
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain – fantasy fiction in which a Yankee engineer is accidentally transported back in time to the court of King Arthur.

I know I’ve got more but this is more than enough to start with.  It’s a mixed bunch and as I like making lists and don’t like making reading plans, I haven’t decided which ones to read over the next three months. Right now, I want to start them all!

7 thoughts on “Once upon a Time …

  1. What a terrific list to choose from! I think I am going to re-read some more Merrily Watkins too. At the moment I’m reading another of Rickman’s books. Looking forward to reading your comments on your choices.


  2. Carl’s “challenges” are great for finally getting to those books that have been hanging around… I’m midway through The Hobbit right now–I think you’ll enjoy it! I’m hoping it will help give me an extra push to finally read LOTR.


  3. A nice list there. I’ve read The Book of Lost Things and rather liked it (John Connolly is one of my favourite authors). Like you I’ve also read the first two Merlin books by Mary Stewart but not the third. I think I would have to read the first two again to refresh my memory, I know I loved them to bits in my 20s! I’ve read three Merrily Watkins books I think, and found them to be excellent, very well written indeed.

    Hope you enjoy OUaT VII this year.


  4. It looks like a great list. The only ones I’ve read are the Mary Stewart and Mark Twain, I enjoyed them both. I swore I wouldn’t join any challenges this year – so far so good.


  5. That’s an awesome list you have there, Margaret! I already see a few I want to see if I can find here: the Ingoldsby Legends, The Owl Killers, and Dreamlands.

    I love the Phil Rickman – I’ve read them all, and they are all well-written, some a little more chilling at times than others – and really good, solid characters. I love Merrily being an exorcist deacon, it adds a religious flavour and depth to the possible hauntings, without making it overtly religious at all. One of the best series. I so hope you enjoy it.

    I might be reading The HObbit too, tomorrow is Tolkien Reading Day!
    Enjoy the challenge! I’m doing my post now.


Comments are closed.