Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel by Megan Morrison



Goodreads: Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel
Series: Tyme #1
Source: Purchased
Published: April 28, 2015

Official Summary

In all of Tyme, from the Redlands to the Grey, no one is as lucky as Rapunzel. She lives in a magic tower that obeys her every wish; she reads wonderful books starring herself as the heroine; her hair is the longest, most glorious thing in the world. And she knows this because Witch tells her so—her beloved Witch, who protects her from evil princes, the dangerous ground under the tower, even unhappy thoughts. Rapunzel can’t imagine any other life.

Then a thief named Jack climbs into her room to steal one of her enchanted roses. He’s the first person Rapunzel’s ever met who isn’t completely charmed by her (well, the first person she’s met at all, really), and he is infuriating– especially when he hints that Witch isn’t telling her the whole truth. Driven by anger at Jack and her own nameless fears, Rapunzel descends to the ground for the first time, and finds a world filled with more peril than Witch promised … and more beauty, wonder, and adventure than she could have dreamed.


Grounded is an immensely imaginative take on the story of Rapunzel, exploring friendship, family, and the meaning of bravery.

In this tale, Rapunzel freely leaves her tower when she believes the witch (whom she fondly calls simply “Witch”) is in danger, and that it’s up to her to keep the only family she has ever known safe. Her journey brings her, and new acquaintance Jack the Beanstalker, clear across the land of Tyme, through places and people she never even knew existed. The journey is of one of personal realization, as much as one of action, as Rapunzel encounters people who have distinctly different thoughts about Witch than she does. She must learn to reconcile what she already knew about Witch and what she learns before she can return home.

The book takes places in a wonderfully imagined fantasy land, where Stalkers fill the land with danger, fairies grant wishes, and acorns can turn into just about anything you would ever want. However, as grand as the setting and fantasy draw of the narrative is, it really shines when it looks at the relationship between Rapunzel and Witch. This is an immensely complicated and nuanced thing, but Morrison tackles it head on, as well as some huge questions about morality, love, and life after death. Other family relationships (for example, between Jack and his sister) add to the rich tapestry of the novel.

My only annoyance with the book was the large chunk of time set aside for other characters to explain things to Rapunzel, from what a mother is to what the ocean is to what sex is (which I guess was supposed to be humorous, but it comes across more as a joke for adults than middle school readers). I understand Rapunzel has spent the entirety of her life in a single room in a tower, with only Witch for company and only books to read that were curated by Witch (and so don’t mention things like mothers, so Rapunzel will never wonder why she doesn’t have one), but the motif gets tiring. I could have done without pages upon pages of characters explaining perfectly ordinary things. Luckily, this stops after a while, and the focus returns to the plot at large.

This was a perfectly fun read, engrossing and imaginative but full of important questions and complex themes.

4 stars Briana

Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel by Megan Morrison


Goodreads: Grounded
Series: Tyme #1
Source: Library
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.

Krysta 64

Rapunzel Cuts Loose by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Rapunzel Cuts LooseInformation

Goodreads: Rapunzel Cuts Loose
Series: Grimmtastic Girls #4
Source: Library
Published: 2014


When an enchantment goes wrong, Rapunzel finds herself left with a hair catastrophe.  But the school fair approaches fast and the E.V.I.L. Society plans to use it as a cover for some of their dastardly deeds.  Can Rapunzel defeat E.V.I.L. while dealing with the worst hair day ever?


Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams continue to make each installment of the Grimmtastic Girls feel fresh with the fourth in the series, Rapunzel Cuts Loose.  Finally readers get inside the head of the mysterious goth girl, whom we find has some secrets in her past.  However, the authors skillfully veer away from stereotypes and caricatures, showing Rapunzel to be a sweet and caring girl who, though she harbors worries like any preteen, does not hide behind her goth girl look but wears it because that is how she chooses to express herself.  With a heroine so confident, what’s not to love about Rapunzel Cuts Loose?

The girls, of course, continue to fight E.V.I.L. in this story, but more interesting to me at this point are the characters themselves.  Each protagonist faces a secret fear and manages to overcome it.  Each one brings distinctive traits and talents to the group.  Each one consistently demonstrates kindness, compassion, and caring.  In short, each girl manages to be an excellent role model while still coming across and real and interesting.  How fascinating to see a series that shows that goodness need not be dull and that girls can be feminine and strong and all sorts of things in all different ways!

I also enjoy how, even though each book so far has featured a love interest, each one has been unique.  And each one has been something that young readers may encounter themselves.  Rapunzel’s story is the first to feature two love interests, but it’s not the horrible love triangle you think.  Instead, Rapunzel makes the mistake so many girls do–she falls hard for the handsome, tall, smooth-talking guy everyone wants-even though he’s obviously selfish and self-centered.  Meanwhile, her poor friend Basil, a legitimately caring guy, falls by the wayside.  But such is life and Rapunzel and her young readers are about to learn how to look past looks to see one’s true character.

I am absolutely thrilled to find a series full of so many good messages and so many characters who are worthy to emulate–all packaged in a story that is truly absorbing and never seems preachy.  I can’t believe I haven’t heard more about these books from fellow readers.

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale, Illustrated by Nathan Hale

Rapunzel's RevengeInformation

Goodreads: Rapunzel’s Revenge
Series: Rapunzel’s Revenge #1
Source: Library
Published: 2008


Rapunzel grew up in the shadow of Mother Gothel’s high garden walls, never realizing that beyond them lay a land stripped of greenery and a mine full of enslaved workers.  The day she discovers the truth is the day she vows to rescue her birth mother from the mines and to exact her revenge on the woman who kidnapped her.  Unfortunately, such vows mean imprisonment in a magical tower.  Only after Rapunzel rescues herself and learns how to strip Gothel of her powers can she fulfill her vow and bring freedom to an oppressed land.


Rapunzel’s Revenge begins promisingly as a retold fairy tale, promising plenty of “girl power” from the start.  In this version, Rapunzel will not wait passively to be rescued but will bust herself out of prison and then rampage across the lands, whipping outlaws into submission with her braids and ending an oppressive power structure that has created a great disparity in wealth between Gothel and her supporters and basically everyone else.  Does the book have an agenda?  Yes, it does–but it’s still kind of fun.

I love seeing how authors transform well-known tales and make them their own, and Rapunzel’s Revenge is no exception.  A Western-style “Rapunzel” is certainly new to me and I appreciated it, even though the Western slang sometimes got corny and no one ever explained why Rapunzel speaks like the peasants with all their analogies to corn and cattle, rather than like the upper-class Gothel who raised her.  I guess we’re just supposed to enjoy watching Rapunzel smack people around with her hair, but that only raised questions of its own.

The book contains a panel showing that during her time in the tower, Rapunzel practiced using her braids like ropes and maybe did some gymnastics.  However, once she frees herself from the tower, Rapunzel is some sort of braid-wielding machine who is constantly surprised at her own abilities.  “I’ve never done that before!” she exclaims.  “Or that!”  “Or that!”  “My goodness, how is it that I am able to knock over all these people like bowling pins when half of them are trained killers and I’m just some girl fresh from a tower?  I don’t know, but it sure is convenient!”  Is having the character voice the readers’ surprised supposed to make them suspend their disbelief more?  Is that a valid narrative strategy?  I have my doubts.

I also was a little put-off by the obvious role inversions.  Rapunzel in this tale does all the villain-whacking while her companion Jack just rides around behind her so he can voice admiration at her feats.  It’s no longer considered great storyteller (by most people) to insert a girl character just so she can sit around and admire the hero, but I suggest that just flipping the roles to make a statement does little service to the narrative.  What would be really progressive would be a girl-boy team working together as equals to accomplish a goal.  Then maybe I could feel like Jack really had a character and I could be more invested in him.

The plot itself was a little uneven.  Most of the beginning reads like a video game, with the protagonists bouncing aimlessly from town to town and receiving at each place a mini quest they had to complete before receiving some sort of item that would help them continue on their main quest.  The main quest is to get back to Gothel’s and somehow exact revenge.  How is not specified because Rapunzel and Jack actually have no plan until a random character (part of a mini quest) reveals that Gothel might have a “totem” that gives her magic and, if destroyed, would end Gothel’s career as…some sort of unspecified ruler over some sort of unspecified…nation?… land parcel?…Western territory?  Politics drive a lot of the plot, but they’re still apparently not important enough to be explained in any detail.

The plot and character development were, in my opinion, lacking in this book, but the chance to see a version of Rapunzel going around as a sort of avenger was fun and light enough that I read the book in one sitting.  I intend to pick up the sequel one day just to see where the Hales take this particular story.  I just hope that we see more in-depth world building and some character development, especially for Jack.

Cress by Marissa Meyer


Goodreads: Cress
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3
Source: Purchased
Published: February 4, 2014

Official Summary

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard. 

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.


Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles only get better as the series progresses.  In Cress, Meyer continues to give readers great plot, while expanding her setting and character base.  Cinder and her team find themselves traversing parts of the world they would never have imagined and bring readers with them on journeys into space, Africa, and back to their homes.  Meyer’s imagination allows her to write science fiction that truly gives readers the sense that technology can lead to global connections.  No place is too far for her characters to go, and no effort for them too great to make in hopes of saving their world.

As usual, Meyers also introduces new characters in Cress—the star being the titular Cress.  Cress is inspired by Rapunzel, and she is perfect.  Meyers takes a bit of a Disney Rapunzel route, imagining Cress as someone bubbly and excited about seeing what lies beyond her prison.  But Cress is also vulnerable and a little unsure, intimidated by how much there is she has never known or experienced.  Her time with Cinder’s team, however, allows her to grow into a confident young woman.

Readers get to see new facets of old characters in Cress, as well.  There is a particular focus on Thorne, who may have a hero’s heart under all his bravado.  Readers who were not already in love with Thorne may begin reconsidering that position.  Additionally, old romances continue to simmer.  Meyer knows how to give readers just enough for them to swoon and sigh over, while clearly holding material back for a big finale.

Plot-wise, readers know they can expect something fast-paced and exciting.  Cress has the distinction of being the most unpredictable of the series, however.  The one flaw of the Lunar Chronicles has hitherto been that its direction has always been quite obvious—and not just because the stories are drawing from well-known fairy tales.  Readers may have a sense of the general path Cress must take, but it actually has several surprising plot-twists, which makes reading it all the more pleasurable.

Cress is breathtaking, offering adventure, romance, and intrigue all in one novel.  It is completely satisfying—except that it will leave readers tortured that Winter is not being released right now.  Highly recommended.

Rapunzel Let Down by Regina Doman

Rapunzel Let DownGoodreads: Rapunzel Let Down
Series: Fairy Tale Novels #6
Source: Received from author in exchange for an honest review

Content Note: Regina has specified that this installment of the Fairy Tale Novels series is more suitable for her older fans as it addresses issues such as out-of-wedlock pregnancy.  If you are concerned about handing the book to a younger reader, you can read Regina’s explanation of how Rapunzel Let Down differs from the previous books.

Summary: While on a family vacation in New England, eighteen-year-old Hermes McCaffrey takes on a dare to climb the tower of a neighboring house—only to discover that the tower is occupied by the most beautiful girl he has ever seen.  Taken with Raphaela’s looks and intelligence, Hermes secretly continues his nightly visits.  An unexpected pregnancy, however, thrusts the young couple into a suddenly very adult world.

Review: Rapunzel Let Down returns to the roots of the original fairy tale, in which the prince, rather than rescue the maiden, impregnates her before finding himself wandering in the wild as a result of his transgressions.  The story thus takes on a much darker tone than any of Doman’s previous Fairy Tale Novels.  Taking as its starting point the question of the prince’s motivations, the book explores the various ways in which people misuse sexuality to harm and exploit each other–and end up harming themselves in the process.  The book is gritty and it is real–but, in the end, offers the hope of redemption.

Among fairy tale retellings, Doman’s really stand out, not only because their contemporary setting is both refreshing and original, but also because they focus on the morality implicit in the original tales.  Thus, unlike many young adult novels set in contemporary times, Rapunzel Let Down refuses to condescend to its audience.  The book assumes that its readers know right from wrong, assumes that they have the strength to choose right.  It is a daring move in a society that has come to accept consequence-free sex almost as a right.

The focus on Hermes, a male, as the protagonist in a story about an out-of-wedlock pregnancy is also an unexpected move.  The chapters actually alternate between his viewpoint and that of Raphaela, but his fall and his subsequent regret drive the plot.  This decision does not serve merely to make Hermes more a more sympathetic character than his decisions might otherwise have made him, but also allows the book to explore the ways in which Hermes failed in his responsibility to love and respect the girl he claims to cherish.  It creates a subtle commentary on the relationships between men and women, illustrating the concept that love means putting others before one’s own desires.

Unfortunately, the nature of the book as a fairy tale retelling does mean that some of the characters are rather less nuanced in their moral position than Hermes.  And these depictions threaten to ruin the credibility of the more positive messages the book contains.  The villain, for instance, though given a tragic backstory to explain the logic behind her warped actions, might have better served a story set in the modern world if she had come across in shades of grey.  Doman calls her a feminist, but the positions she adopts are always extremes and she ends up no more than a caricature of what people think feminism is rather than what it truly stands for.   Though women such as her may exist, contemporary audiences tend to respond with more enthusiasm to villains who show themselves conflicted.  Dismissing the villain and her views is all too easy when they seem like parodies of the beliefs many people actually hold.

And quite frankly, it is difficult to like a book that presents feminism as evil rather than engaging the idea of feminism with more charity and a little more research.  Catholicism teaches, after all, says that men and women are equal in dignity.  Feminism calls for women to be able to make equal pay for equal work, for women to be able to choose to be a wife and mother if they choose or to hold a career if they choose or to do both if they choose, for women to be given paid maternity leave, for women to be free from catcalls and harassment, for women not to be forced to adhere to sexist dress codes at work.  The goals of feminism call for respect for women, not hatred for men.  Feminism is not the opposite of Catholicism as Doman seems to think but is in many ways aligned with Catholic values.  But at times the book seems to conflate extreme conservative politics with Catholicism in a very troubling way, suggesting that one cannot be Catholic and feminist at the same time.

Further, [warning: discussion of graphic content/rape] a rape occurs towards the end of the book.  Doman’s perspective on this is that it is not a rape.  The book suggests that because the girl previously consented to sex that forcing her into intercourse later on when she is ill and groggy and wants to be left alone, does not constitute rape.  The book suggests that it is only crazy liberal feminists who would think this and that sexual politics have gotten way out of hand when a boy can’t have sex with a girl anytime he wants even if she’s too ill and sleepy to consent and only submits at the end because she knows she has to or he won’t leave her alone.  Talk about a terrible message to give to readers!  According to the book, pressuring a girl into doing something against her will isn’t rape!  According to the book, pressuring a girl into sex when she is too ill to know what is happening isn’t rape!  What it is according to Doman remains unclear.  The implication is almost that the girl had it coming to her since she consented to fornication previously.

Fans of retold fairy tales, especially those that retain some of the darkness of the original tales, should find Rapunzel Let Down a unique contribution to the  many retellings currently available.  It tackles many tough issues ranging from consent to abortion, taking its readers in the process on a twisted journey through the consequences of sin– and that is its strong point.  It also gives a hopeful message by promising that relationships can be restored and trust rebuilt through sacrifice and love.  However, the warped understanding of feminism and rape ultimately threaten to destroy any credibility this book might have with readers.  I worry that it is even a dangerous book if it convinces even one reader that rape is not rape.

Notes: Though the book is the sixth book published in the Fairy Tale Novels series, it it distinct from the others and can be read alone.  The first three form a trilogy while books four, five, and six each feature new characters (with some recurring characters as a bonus for fans).

*Review edited 4/17 to include more reflection on some of the problematic aspects of the book.

You can also read our Author Interview with Regina!

Published: 2013

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