Series: Tyme #1
Published: April 2015
Rapunzel lives happily in her tower with Witch, who protects her from the outside world and provides her with everything she could ever need, from stories featuring herself as the heroine to household objects that obey her commands. Then one day a boy called Jack climbs into her tower and claims they have met before. His story means that Witch could be in danger, so, disbelieving and frightened, Rapunzel chooses to follow him outside, braving terrifying peasants and monstrous ground beasts, all to save her beloved Witch.
Some fairy tales have been retold so many times that even the twists in the twisted retellings have started to seem old. When I began Grounded, I thought, “Here we go again. The saucy thief, the selfish heroine, the trip through the outside world that will change Rapunzel’s perspective. It’s a little bit of Tangled and little bit of other stories. Either way, I have seen it before.” I prepared myself to slog through nearly 400 pages in the hope that one day Rapunzel would at least stop being so annoying. And then, suddenly, Grounded surprised me.
I would not say, exactly, that Grounded is a wholly unique tale. Many of the elements, from the fairies in hidden kingdoms to the kingdom in the sky to the disastrous stop in town where our heroes’ cover is blown, will be familiar to lovers of fantasy. But that is okay. Some elements simply work well in fantasy and, done properly, they can be inserted in many a tale without coming out the worse for wear. Give me some sympathetic characters and a plot that has real stakes involved, and I will happily settle down to a fantasy that recalls other stories. This is a fairy tale retelling, after all. Familiar stories are already guaranteed–and not just Rapunzel’s.
Despite the familiar elements, Grounded drew me in because the characters grew in real and sometimes unexpected ways. I anticipated Rapunzel’s transformation from a selfish, whiny, and near-sighted individual to a more mature one, but I did not foresee how nuanced her growth would be. She manages to change while remaining true to herself. In refusing to listen to others, who often speak out of fear or hate, she gains true control over her story and saves herself.
Such nuance in character development, combined with an enchanting world full of magic and myth makes me eager to explore more of Tyme and to meet more fairy tale characters. I look forward to the sequel.