Once Upon a Time: Behind The Magic: A Companion by Tara Bennett and Paul Terry (book review).

In ‘Once Upon A Time’, the characters of a fairy tale world have been transported under an evil curse to live in small-town America with no knowledge of their previous epic existence. The only person who knows about the curse is the evil Queen Regina who called it down and is now the town’s mayor and Mr. Gold who runs a local curio shop amongst other interests. A small boy called Henry, who was adopted by Regina, runs away to Boston to find his birth mother, Emma Swan, and show her a storybook that shows the real story behind the town of Storybrooke.


Feeling that ‘Once Upon A Time’ is away from our screens for far too long then, while away the hours flicking through this book from Titan, which takes us ‘Behind The Magic’. Unfortunately, for us in the UK, it doesn’t look like ‘Once Upon A Time’ is coming back anytime soon despite having given birth to a spin-off series ‘Once Upon A Time In Wonderland’. The first season had more highlights than the second and perhaps it doesn’t attract enough viewers to compete with ‘I’m A Non-entity, Put Me Away’.

‘Once Upon A Time’ was created by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, who were also writers on the epic series ‘Lost’. Indeed, many references to the show are scattered through episodes of ‘Once Upon A Time’, along with cheeky asides to various fairy tales, including Disney classics, now itself, part of the ongoing genre. Billed as a family show, this has a strong pair of female leads in Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) and Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) with the Evil Queen Regina (Lana Parilla) also stealing the show and the best frocks! Alongside them is Rumplestiltskin, also known as Rumple and Mr. Gold (both played by the excellent Robert Carlyle).

For those interested in set design and visual effects, there are chapters on those, including how to make a believable beanstalk. We take so much for granted with drama but the look and feel is just as important as the human actors and ‘Once Upon A Time’ does have a strong visual appeal with what looks like a big budget on costume and effects. One of my favourite episodes is where Rumplestiltskin visits Doctor Frankenstein, all done in the style of the Universal movies from the 1930s.

The only problem with having so many strong female characters is that most of the men come across as fairly wussy. One exception is evil Rumple who, despite being evil, still gets the girl. The other boys are a bit wet compared to him and in an effort to introduce some variety, along came Captain Hunky…er…Hook, which also neatly introduces Neverland as a not very nice place where our intrepid adventures must go at the end of season two.

This is a smashing book with lots of photos and plenty to read as well. It has an episode by episode précis of the first two seasons, so if you want to get the quick notes this is a comprehensive catch up for season three. Fingers crossed and straight on ‘til morning.

Sue Davies

(pub: Titan Books. 176 page illustrated softcover. Price: £14.99 (UK), $16.99 (US), $14.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-78276-029-0)
check out website: www.titanbooks.com

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