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Review: Once Upon A Curse: 17 Dark Faerie Tales

Flora Reviews… Once Upon A Curse: An anthology of 17 Dark Faerie tales from today’s bestselling authors: Devon MonkAnthea SharpChristine PopeYasmine GalenornC. GockelDonna AugustineAnnie BelletAudrey FayeDanielle MonschTara MayaJenna Elizabeth JohnsonAlexia PurdyPhaedra WeldonJulia CraneSabrina LockeJennifer Blackstream and Alethea Kontis

book cover for once-upon-a-curse-17-dark-faerie-tales-anthology

..So what’s Once Upon A Curse about?

Once Upon a Curse is a book (approx 360 pages) containing seventeen short stories and novellas by best-selling and award-winning fantasy authors, with the common theme of being dark faerie tales. 

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I'll receive a small commission from the sale.

Review: Once Upon A Curse: 17 Dark Faerie TalesMy Rating:
Title: Once Upon a Curse: 17 Dark Faerie Tales by Yasmine Galenorn, Alethea Kontis, Annie Bellet, Anthea Sharp, Christine Pope, Jennifer Blackstream, Jenna Elizabeth Johnson, Phaedra Weldon, Devon Monk, Donna Augustine, Audrey Faye, C. Gockel, Alexia Purdy, Julia Crane, Sabrina Locke, Tara Maya, Danielle Monsch
Series: Once Upon Series (Anthology)
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance (PNR)
Formats Available: eBook, Paperback
No. of Pages: 416
Source: Bought
Purchase Links:Amazon UK ¦ Amazon US

Shadows cannot exist without light, however, and you'll find enough happily-ever-afters to lift your spirits in this anthology full of adventure, dark powers, and ultimately the enduring power of true love.

YARROW, STURDY AND BRIGHT by Devon Monk - Sweet music cannot hide a wicked heart...
FAE HORSE by Anthea Sharp - Faerie bargains can grant any desire, but be careful what you wish for.
THE QUEEN OF FROST AND DARKNESS by Christine Pope - Her heart is the only thing colder than a Russian winter....
BONES by Yasmine Galenorn - Sometimes, your most cherished dream can turn out to be a nightmare.
MAGIC AFTER MIDNIGHT by C. Gockel - The Wicked Stepmother is about to meet her match...
DANCE WITH THE DEVIL by Donna Augustine - When the devil makes a deal with a dancer, he gets more than he bargained for.
NO GIFT OF WORDS by Annie Bellet - Never steal from a witch...
THE GRIM BROTHER by Audrey Faye - Not all walks in the wood end well...
BEAST INSIDE BEAUTY by Danielle Monsch - Happily Ever After ain't guaranteed when Once Upon a Time is here.
FAESCORNED by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson - The Morrigan, Celtic goddess of war and strife, must relive a painful memory that reminds her of what she can never have.
DRAWN TO THE BRINK by Tara Maya - Sajiana's job is to hunt down monsters brought alive from paintings. She never expected to meet one so handsome... or to need his help.
THE VARIANCE COURT by Alexia Purdy - Anna, a struggling college student, discovers a mysterious ring that turns her quiet life chaotic when the ring's magic doesn't do what it's told.
THE MORRIGAN by Phaedra Weldon - A young man discovers he has leprechaun blood - and is wanted by dark faerie forces.
ALICE by Julia Crane - A twisted tale of Alice and Wonderland. Facing madness and an ominous prophecy, Alice chooses to follow her heart despite knowing her world is about to change forever.
STILL RED by Sabrina Locke - When the Hunters come, can there be any escape?
THE FINAL STRAW by Jennifer Blackstream - To banish a gold-spinning demon, first you must guess his name...
THE UNICORN HUNTER by Alethea Kontis - Only Snow White knows what really happened in the forest...


I downloaded the Kindle version for just 99p from Amazon UK in the hope of finding some “new to me” authors while reading some new tales from a couple of existing favourites.

I will give a brief review and rate each story. If you want to find out more about each author, just click on their links at the end of the post.

What did I think of Once Upon A Curse?

Story 1 – YARROW, STURDY AND BRIGHT by Devon Monk – Sweet music cannot hide a wicked heart…


This really reminds me of those old dark fairy tales I used to read; The Brothers Grimm, old Welsh tales like the lightening tree, etc. I liked it – it had the same feel. I will be looking out for more from this author.

My Rating: 5 stars

Story 2 – FAE HORSE by Anthea Sharp – Faerie bargains can grant any desire, but be careful what you wish for.

I felt that this was neither a tale written in the old traditional style or modern. The story was set in times past. However, it was the language and writing style (sentence structure, etc) that left it adrift. I still enjoyed it but it felt lost compared to Story 1.

My Rating – 3 stars

Story 3 – THE QUEEN OF FROST AND DARKNESS by Christine Pope – Her heart is the only thing colder than a Russian winter….

I enjoyed this retelling of The Winter Witch or Snow Queen. It was a very short version and so wasn’t as complex or as in depth as some other incarnations but it was still enjoyable.

My Rating – 3 stars

Story 4 – BONES by Yasmine Galenorn- Sometimes, your most cherished dream can turn out to be a nightmare.

Wow! I really enjoyed this dark fairy tale; it reminded me of the Greek fairy tales that I read as a teen. I’ll be looking out for more from this author.

My Rating – 4 or 5 stars

Story 5 – MAGIC AFTER MIDNIGHT by C. Gockel – The Wicked Stepmother is about to meet her match…

I am already a fan of Ms Cockel’s writing style and this didn’t disappoint. I really enjoyed this tale; it would be a wonderful prequel novella should Ms Gockel wish to take the characters further (I would certainly read it). There have been many Cinderella re-writes but this comes from a new angle – think of this as Wicked (the Wizard of Oz re-write) in an urban fantasy setting…

My Rating – 4 or 5 stars

Story 6 – DANCE WITH THE DEVIL by Donna Augustine – When the devil makes a deal with a dancer, he gets more than he bargained for.

I really liked this one; it’s very short but didn’t feel rushed. What I liked the most is like all good fairy tales, just when you think you know where the story is going – it doesn’t! 😉 I will be looking out for more stories by this author.

My Rating – 4 or 5 stars

Story 7 – NO GIFT OF WORDS by Annie Bellet – Never steal from a witch…

I am already a fan of Ms Bellet’s writing style and this didn’t disappoint. I really loved this tale – it felt & read like a traditional folk tale. Brilliant!

My Rating – 5 stars

Story 8 – THE GRIM BROTHER by Audrey Faye – Not all walks in the wood end well…

I liked this story. It is written as a memoir from the point of view of an old priest. You get clues as to who he was in his youth and I like the way you’re lead to the final realisation.

My Rating – 3 or 4 stars

Story 9 – BEAUTY INSIDE BEAST by Danielle Monsch – Happily Ever After ain’t guaranteed when Once Upon a Time is here.

This had potential, the beginnings of a good story (or series) but it kind of leaves you hanging – a lot. Not a good story to include in a box set like this as it feels more like a taster sample; the first 10 chapters of a book.

My Rating – 2 or 3 stars

Story 10 – DRAWN TO THE BRINK by Tara Maya – Sajiana’s job is to hunt down monsters brought alive from paintings. She never expected to meet one so handsome… or to need his help.

It was good, I really liked it. Although this tale takes place as part of a series that I am unfamiliar with, I found the story and characters very easy to follow and believe in. What a fantastic premise for a fantasy world! I will look for more books in this series.

My Rating – 3 or 4 stars

Story 11 – FAESCORNED by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson – The Morrigan, Celtic goddess of war and strife, must relive a painful memory that reminds her of what she can never have.

I thought that this was a good story. This tale feels like an additional novella for an ongoing series and as such, there was obvious history and back-story that I was missing, having said that, I have read various stories within the Celtic mythologies and was familiar with this complex goddess so it was nice to read a bit of fantasy fiction that tried used this as it’s premise.

My Rating – 3 stars

Story 12 – THE VARIANCE COURT by Alexia Purdy – Anna, a struggling college student, discovers a mysterious ring that turns her quiet life chaotic when the ring’s magic doesn’t do what it’s told.

I didn’t like this; not my cup of tea. I think this is an opening novella/short story for a new series. The premise to this story was not original and the execution was poor. My 11yr old niece writes stories and I felt that the writing style, execution of grammar and the construction of sentences/paragraphs/chapters as well as the general plot development here was of a similar standard. I felt no love for our main character, Anna, in fact she frustrated the hell out of me; I didn’t like her at all.

My Rating – 1 star

Story 13 – THE MORRIGAN by Phaedra Weldon – A young man discovers he has leprechaun blood – and is wanted by dark faerie forces.

I haven’t read any fantasy books starring leprechauns before… but I certainly loved this one. What a great urban fantasy tale. I found the writing style easy to read, the plot had a good pace and contained a great balance of tension, action with enough some mysteries were solved while other questions are left to be explored within future tales.

My Rating – 5 stars

Story 14 – ALICE by Julia Crane – A twisted tale of Alice and Wonderland. Facing madness and an ominous prophecy, Alice chooses to follow her heart despite knowing her world is about to change forever.

I liked this story; however it does end very abruptly with a tagline about the storyline continuing in “Down The Rabbit Hole”. As you can imagine, this story takes its premise from Alice in Wonderland, I did like the author’s writing style and what’s here was captivating but as this is more of a taster, I’m unable to comment on character or plot development.

My Rating – 3 or 4 stars

Story 15 – STILL RED by Sabrina Locke – When the Hunters come, can there be any escape?

I did like this dark, sometimes surreal, short story; it was good. The writing was beautifully crafted and very intelligent. It read like a cult classic; passionate, poignant but with a sprinkling of magic to leave you bewildered or awed depending on your interpretation.

My Rating – 3 or 4 stars

Story 16 – THE FINAL STRAW by Jennifer Blackstream – To banish a gold-spinning demon, first you must guess his name…

I enjoyed this story; Ms Blackstream took the premise from Rumpelstiltskin and made it her own. This is a lovely short story/novella which can be read as part of her Blood Prince and Blood Realm series. I found it easy to read and liked how the story developed.

My Rating – 3 or 4 stars

Story 17 – THE UNICORN HUNTER by Alethea Kontis – Only Snow White knows what really happened in the forest…

I absolutely loved this story. I was completely transfixed from start to finish; the way the story was written and how the characters of the demon and the princess revealed themselves, their journey, the plot evolution and the poignant ending (yes, I blubbed). I will be looking out for more books from this author.

My Rating – 5 stars

…So, basically what I’m saying is…

Once Upon A Curse is a good box set.

I have enjoyed having this as an ongoing back-up, to be able to pick up and read when I’ve had a bit of free time. What I’m thrilled about is that I have found some new to me authors to check out and I’ve really loved reading 4 out of the 17 tales while only a couple of stories were not to my taste. I think that is quite rare for a collection of this size and price.

I think it’s got a nice assortment of different settings and sub-genres under the faerie tale themed umbrella to suit most tastes.

About Annie Bellet

Author - Annie Bellet

Annie Bellet is the USA Today bestselling author of The Twenty-Sided SorceressPyrrh Considerable Crimes Division, and the Gryphonpike Chronicles series. She holds a BA in English and a BA in Medieval Studies and thus can speak a smattering of useful languages such as Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Welsh.

Her interests besides writing include rock climbing, reading, horse-back riding, video games, comic books, table-top RPGs and many other nerdy pursuits.  She lives in the Netherlands with her husband.

About C. Gockel

Author - C. Gockel

C. Gockel has been writing stories for her friends and family since the dark ages (i.e., before word processors existed.) A few years ago, she started posting those stories to the intertubes. She received emails, messages, and reviews from her fans telling her she should ‘do this professionally.’ She didn’t; because she is a coward and life as a digital designer, copywriter and coder is more dependable. But in the end, her husband’s nagging wore her down: “You could be the next ’50 Shades of Gray’ and I could retire!” Unfortunately, the author writes science fiction and fantasy, and isn’t particularly good at writing erotica. She is sad about this; she’d love for her husband to be able to retire and just work for her so she could nag him.

About Christine Pope

Author - Christine Pope

A native of Southern California, Christine Pope has been writing stories ever since she commandeered her family’s Smith-Corona typewriter back in the sixth grade. Many reams of dead trees later, she’s happy to announce that her debut novel, Fringe Benefits, was published by Pink Petal Books on April 8, 2010. Her short fiction has appeared in Astonishing Adventures, Luna Station Quarterly, and the new journal of dark fiction, Dark Valentine. Her paranormal novella, Playing With Fire, was released on August 5, 2010.

While Fringe Benefits is a straight contemporary romance, she writes in a variety of genres, including paranormal romance, fantasy, horror, science fiction, and historical romance. She blames this on being easily distracted by bright, shiny objects, which could also account for the size of her shoe collection.

After spending many years in the magazine publishing industry, she now works as a freelance editor in addition to writing fiction. She lives with her husband and an explosively fluffy Pomeranian mix. Her house is pink, but don’t hold that against her.

About Jennifer Blackstream

Author - Jennifer Blackstream

Jennifer Blackstream is a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She is amazed and grateful to have made a writing career out of a Master’s degree in Psychology, hours of couch-detecting watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and endless research into mythology and fairy tales. She firmly believes that whether it’s a village witch deciding she wants to be a private investigator, or a single mother having a go at being a full-time writer, it’s never too late for a new adventure.

A fervent devotee of cooperative board games, Jennifer sets aside at least two nights a week for team-based adventures such as Mice & Mystics, Sentinels of the Multiverse, or Harry Potter: Battle at Hogwarts. She uses games with dice-based mechanics to lure in her ridiculously lucky-rolling son and daughter in the hope that they too will develop a passion for cooperative escapism.

Has my review of ONCE UPON A CURSE: 17 Dark Faerie Tales sparked your interest? I hope so.

signature graphic. Happy reading from flora image sitting on books

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. I really appreciate it.

Flora x

About Author

I'm in my late forties, my interests are varied but since menopause hit a few years ago, I find myself becoming a "grumpy old woman" all too frequently - where has my infinite patience gone!?! Lol!
I bought a Kindle in the summer of 2013 and haven't stopped reading since. If you want to know more about me, check out my blog - www.florasmusings.com

(2) Comments

  1. This looks very promising! I LOVE fairy tale retellings and it looks like overall most of these were pretty good (I'm picky about buying anthologies because I tend to only like one or two stories). I've loved Alethea Kontis's other books so this would already be a win for me

  2. This isn't typically my genre, but I really love that cover!

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