The 12th installment in the New York Times best-selling series asks: What if Rapunzel's mother drank a potion from the wrong flower? Desperate to save the life of their queen and her unborn child, the good people of Corona search for the all-healing Sundrop flower to cure her—but mistakenly acquire the shimmering Moondrop flower instead. Nonetheless it heals the queen, and she delivers a healthy baby girl with hair as silver and gray as the moon. With it comes dangerous magical powers: the power to hurt, not heal. For her safety and the safety of the kingdom, Rapunzel is locked in a tower and put under the care of powerful goodwife, Mother Gothel. For eighteen years Rapunzel stays locked away, knowing she must protect others from her magical hair. But when she leaves the only home she's ever known, wanting only to see the floating lights that appear on her birthday, she gets caught up in an adventure across the kingdom with two thieves—a young woman named Gina, and Flynn Rider, a rogue on the run. Before she can reach her happy ending, Rapunzel learns that there may be more to her story, and her magical tresses, than she ever knew.
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In the same vein as The Princess Bride, the story begins with Brendan at a hospital with his younger sister who has cancer and is receiving treatment. To cheer her up and not read the same story he has read more times than he can count, he decides to tell her his own Rapunzel story. I love Brendan’s version of the story. I also love how Daniella continuously interrupts the story to interject her own thoughts about what should happen next. It brings levity to the story while also bringing awareness to childhood cancer, which is a cause near and dear to my own heart.
In Brendan’s story, Rapunzel’s mother drinks a potion from the Moondrop flower, and so her healing powers are much different. Rapunzel’s hair is now silver instead of gold, and her power is tied to the moon. Instead of healing, her hair can kill. With broken hearts, her parents send her away to learn how to control her magic and hopefully one day return, but Mother Gothel has other plans.
Rapunzel is not quite as naive as she is in the origin cartoon. She is still unused to the world at large, but she is more scared of killing others than of them hurting her. In fact, I’d say she’s quite fearless in that she quickly trusts those around her, knowing that if it comes down to it, she can protect herself. I loved reading how her character grows and learns through her adventure to see the floating lights.
Flynn is not my favorite character though as he is in the source material. While I like him, Gina is my favorite. Gina is a new character created by Brendan for the story. She is like a female Flynn. She’s daring and courageous and wants nothing more than to be a ruffian as Rapunzel calls them. When she crosses paths with Rapunzel, she promises to help her find Flynn Rider in exchange for a bit of gold and notoriety.
Overall, I really enjoyed What Once Was Mine. Rapunzel’s journey is more here than in the cartoon, and it is even more accurate to history at the time the story is set during. I loved the characters and bits of history Braswell adds to the story. Again I loved the story within a story as well. Brendan and Daniella are fun, even if their presence isn’t always seen. If you are a fan of this series or a fan of fairy tales, I highly recommend this one!
*This review first appeared on Mom with a Reading Problem. You can find it here: https://momwithareadingproblem.com/2021/09/review-what-once-was-mine-by-liz-braswell