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Twice Upon a Marigold
Jean Ferris
Harcourt, 304 pages

Twice Upon a Marigold
Jean Ferris
Jean Ferris is the author of the novels Love Among the Walnuts and Eight Seconds, both winners of an ALA Best Book for Young Adults Award, and the New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age. Ms. Ferris is not afraid to tackle difficult subjects: living with a deaf parent (Of Sound Mind), facing the consequences of a criminal act (Bad), or questioning one's sexuality (Eight Seconds), and is also adept at writing comedy, historical fiction, and romance. She lives in San Diego, California.

BOOK REVIEWS:

  • Bad: 1
  • Eight Seconds: 1, 2
  • Of Sound Mind: 1
  • Once Upon a Marigold: 1, 2, 3, 4.
  • Twice Upon a Marigold: 1
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Georges T. Dodds

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In a age when people are never satiated with the day to day details of celebrity couples' lives, it shouldn't be surprising that a fairy tale can't simply end with "and they lived happily ever after," but draws the inevitable question -- was it really as happy as all that, or did Prince Charming have a mid-life crisis and run off with Rapunzel's teenage daughter? And what about the evil step-mother/queen/dwarf/black prince that survived -- surely they didn't retire to a convent/monastery. To good effect this literary ploy has brought us the likes of Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third, but in the wrong hands it can degenerate into the prose equivalent of a supermarket tabloid.

Thankfully, Twice Upon a Marigold, while delving into the not so happily ever after period of characters introduced in the award-winning Once Upon a Marigold, does a good job of keeping things light and whimsical, yet showing important lessons like the fact that inaction in the face of evil has dire consequences, and that good people can ultimately defeat evil, without resorting to it themselves. Some of the main characters' idiosyncrasies, like Christian's gadget-making, seen in Once Upon a Marigold are perhaps not exploited as much as they could have been, but the somewhat Lud-in-the-Mist-ish mayor and townsfolk of Granolah are quite amusing on their own.

In this particular case, evil Queen Olympia, presumed dead, returns from an amnesic exile in the small riverside town of Granolah, to reclaim the throne of the kingdom of Beaurivage. Meanwhile Christian and Marigold are having the first big fight of their 'fairy tale' marriage, in part thanks to the effluvia of Queen Olympia's bad karma. The placid king and people of Beaurivage are easily subjugated by the former queen, and executions and counter-revolutionary actions are soon planned on either side. The wizard equivalent of Clint Eastwood's Man-With-No-Name being unavailable, Wendell, a bumbling elderly wizard is brought in to exorcise the queen, though his main contribution is to introduce jokestress Princess Marigold to knock-knock jokes.

Having read Twice Upon a Marigold as a sequel to Once Upon a Marigold, rather than as a stand alone book, I must confess to not having enjoyed it quite as much as the original. Part of this is inherent to a sequel, inasmuch as the "gee whiz" of discovering a new world and character landscape is largely lost. While this may account for some 'letdown,' the original's quirkiness and originality is somewhat muted in the sequel, which also more overtly portrays its moral agenda, albeit in a fairy-tale-moral kind of way. Nonetheless, Mr. Lucasa, a polyglot who is constantly using foreign words to enhance his speech, and turns out to be both an excellent cook and a top-notch dress designer is one of the more entertaining of the new characters. Wendell, the elderly, necromancer-in-training, reminds one a bit of the good wizard in Ralph Bakshi's Wizards, clearly on the side of good, a bit befuddled, world-weary, yet capable of effectively standing up to evil when the chips are down.

As its predecessor, Twice Upon a Marigold remains an excellent melding of fairy tale tropes with modern-day issues, and, as much good 'middle grade fiction,' has elements which entertain both the young and the older reader. Besides, any book with a dictatrix-toppling elephant named Hannibal deserves a read.

Copyright © 2008 by Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist whose interests lie predominantly in both English and French pre-1950 imaginative fiction. Besides reviews and articles at SFSite and in fanzines such as Argentus, Pulpdom and WARP, he has published peer-reviewed articles in fields ranging from folklore to water resource management. He is the creator and co-curator of The Ape-Man, His Kith and Kin a website exploring thematic precursors of Tarzan of the Apes, as well as works having possibly served as Edgar Rice Burroughs' documentary sources. The close to 100 e-texts include a number of first time translations from the French by himself and others. Georges is also the creator and curator of a website dedicated to William Murray Graydon (1864-1946), a prolific American-born author of boys' adventures. The website houses biographical, and bibliographical materials, as well as a score of novels, and over 100 short stories.


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