Heroes with a Capital H: A Liz Braswell Book Review

by - September 09, 2021

What if Rapunzel’s mother drank a potion from the wrong flower?

In the latest from the Twisted Tales series, author Liz Braswell returns to share a new version of the Tangled storyline in What Once Was Mine. This is her sixth novel of the series, having previously shared twisted versions of Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan.

Desperate to save the life of their queen and her unborn child, the good citizens of the kingdom comb the land for the all-healing Sundrop flower to cure her... but someone mistakenly picks the blossom of the Moondrop instead. This shimmering flower heals the queen and she delivers a healthy baby girl - with hair as silver and gray as the moon. But with her mysterious hair comes dangerous magical powers: the power to hurt, not heal. For the safety of the kingdom, Rapunzel is locked away in a tower and put under the care of the powerful goodwife, Mother Gothel.

“I was really intrigued by Rapunzel's inner life,” Braswell said. “What kind of person lives mostly alone and imprisoned for almost 20 years… and comes out not only sane, but optimistic about the world? Exploring her psyche, going more deeply into the way her mind worked was a fascinating journey.”

Trying to figure out how a believable character could go through what Rapunzel did and conveying that realistically to the reader was both rewarding and challenging. Braswell also had difficulty in describing the movement of Rapunzel’s hair. What works in an animated movie doesn’t always work in a YA novel, she said. One of her favorite aspects, however, was twisting the story of Maximus, Flynn Rider’s horse.

Readers are also introduced to a new character: a would-be outlaw named Gina.

“While fans (myself included) would probably be happy with 500 pages of Flynn and Raps, the story really needed a third character for them to shine off of, to share secrets with, to grow along with,” Braswell said. “Flynn and Rapunzel are Heroes with capital H; Gina is one of the heroes who is quietly instrumental in the happily ever afters arriving safe and sound.”

Before she can reach her happy ending, Rapunzel learns that there is far more to her story, and her magical hair, and her future than she ever knew. Her mental discipline is one of Braswell’s favorite characteristics of Rapunzel, and is something she wishes she had in her own life.

Her other favorite characteristic? Her feet!

“Think about it: she's a person who has spent her whole life without actually touching the ground - yet she is more grounded in who she is and what she wants than Flynn. It's a nice metaphor for being enthusiastically head-in-the-clouds while staying in touch with who you are.”

What Once Was Mine is available here.

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