‘What Once Was Mine’ Review: A Witchy Twist to Rapunzel’s Story


What would happen if Rapunzel’s mother drank the essence of the Moondrop flower instead of the Sundrop flower? That’s the premise behind What Once Was Mine, the latest edition in the bestselling A Twisted Tale series from Disney. Author Liz Braswell adds dimension and undertones of dark, enchanting magic to the tale of Rapunzel. She also asks hard questions about the nature of privilege, what it means to be a mother, and explores the importance of one’s self through Rapunzel’s hair and the interlacing story of Daniella who is undergoing chemo treatments.

Braswell delivers a magical, witchy tale just in time for fall as Rapunzel learns about the powers her hair, infused with the essence of the moon, holds. Readers are treated to a host of new characters as well as old favorites with unexpected twists. Every tale in this series feels special, but What Once Was Mine cleverly entwines the real-world folklore of Countess Bathory (if you’re a folklore fan, look her up) giving the tale an extra dark flavor I didn’t expect from a Rapunzel retelling and one I very much hope we see again in the future. This book feels darker and more mysterious with the elements of magic and the moon at the center of the story. Where the original film is all about Rapunzel’s journey to the lights, here Rapunzel’s journey is focused on discovering herself, her real heritage, and the magic within. Taught to fear her hair her entire life, it’s a beautiful moment as Rapunzel steps into her own power and grows as a character.

Of course, the story wouldn’t be complete without Flynn Rider who is just as charming in print as on screen. Braswell expertly brings him to life with not only his dashing Flynn Rider attitude but also granting fans wonderful heartfelt moments highlighting the complexity of being human. She also gives us a look into the (twisted) mind of Gothel and what she’s been up to (hint: it’s not good) while Rapunzel is in the tower and after she makes her escape. The story is excellently told and well-rounded with multiple points of view on the ever-changing adventure. What begins as a trip to see the lanterns ends where Rapunzel could never have guessed. Readers won’t be able to put this book down as Rapunzel finds herself on the run with Flynn, Gina, and Pascal, a new challenge around every corner. This retelling shakes the tale of Rapunzel down to its bare bones and rebuilds it with changes that feel natural and magical, giving us an entirely new story to lose ourselves in.

What Once Was Mine publishes September 7!

Brianna works full time in the publishing industry, passionately building books to bring to the masses. Her first fandom was Harry Potter, which she joined at age 11. Her love for books took her abroad to earn her Masters Degree at University College London, after which she lived in New York City, and now resides in Austin. She loves all things fandom including Supernatural, Doctor Who, and more. Ever the introvert, she can usually be found reading, playing with her dog, listening to music and practicing yoga. Brianna joined the Nerds and Beyond staff in 2018 where she unites her love for all things "nerd" with her passion for writing. Find her on Twitter here: @bookbag09

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