Settle in for a moment, friends, because today’s review is of a series with eleven books. Eleven. K. M. Shea’s Timeless Fairy Tales series tells the story of a continent under attack by darkness. It has daring princesses, spies, and soldiers, and it pulls in from previous and future books by Shea, as well. Let us begin.
The series opens with Beauty and the Beast, and it is lovely. It vaguely follows the traditional storyline that we all know and somewhat love. I mean, the original (non-Disney) is kind of creepy. This version feels more realistic, which is a weird thing to say about a fairy tale, but the characters and situations are more believable.
Book two could have been my favorite. Instead, Shea decided to make it a choose-your-own-romance story. Wild Swans tells a little known fairy tale of a princess who must save her brothers after they are turned into swans. I love Elise. She is practical and kind and smart. But I can’t stand that she doesn’t officially get with anyone at the end. You get to choose which person you want her to get with, and there’s an extra chapter for whichever dude you choose. And only one of those is actually good and realistic to the characters. It was like the author didn’t want Elise to get with that man after all. But it’s fine. I guess. Because that book leads to Book Six.
I will skip to Book Six here because it is years in the past from all of the others anyway. Puss in Boots is the best one. And that is because Gabrielle is amazing. OMG. I love Gabi. She is strong and smart and understands the world. She doesn’t do anything for glory but to help others. Her relationship with Roland is fun. And Roland is fantastic. Steffen is alright, too, but Gabi and Roland are why you read this book.
Back to the third book, Cinderella and the Colonel. I love Friedrich. He is smart and sassy and sweet. Cinderella is everything you could want from her. She is strong. Even when she doesn’t want to be. You will (...if your tastes align with mine) enjoy this book.
Book four is another favorite of mine. Rumpelstiltskin is not a book you’d think you’d like as much as the others. But I love it. This is the first book where one of the characters is a mage. Shea has a way of making you feel like magic is real and natural and something that some people must be born with, probably her with the way she writes the scenes. Check out my review of The Snow Queen series for more adjectives about Shea’s magical writing. I love seeing a mage’s perspective through her writing. Also, Gemma is amazing.
Book five. The Little Selkie is The Little Mermaid, but not how you know it. Many people haven’t even heard of selkies, but Shea takes the idea and makes it fun. Dylan doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her, and it is startlingly refreshing. She is so go-with-the-flow wonderful, and she stands up for her friends, even though she is dealing with much more in her life than courtier politics.
Swan Lake was honestly a little bit of a let-down compared to some of the other books. It’s fine, and Alexei is wonderful, but it wasn’t as good as the others. Odette is constantly pushing herself down, and the writing feels a little forced with that plotline. I don’t buy it anymore than Alexei did.
Next is Sleeping Beauty, which left me in a rare case of disliking the main guy. Usually Shea excels at creating fantastic romantic interests for the leading lady, but Isaia did not make the cut. He let Briar stay asleep for a whole year. He knew she loved him; he loved her. But he wouldn’t kiss her. For a year. That being said, Briar is fantastic. She was given the gift of being clever at her birth, and she totally is. She is wonderful, dragged down only by the idiotic Isaia.
Frog Prince. Totally not what you’d expect, but exactly what you’d want. Ariadne is a neat freak maid; Lucien is a messy, posturing prince. How could it NOT work?
12 Dancing Princesses: Ok. I know I said that my favorite is Puss in Boots, but it might actually tie with this one. Because just as much as I love Gabi, I loooooove Quinn. This book felt different than the others, and I loved it. Also, Emerys is great. He kind of feels like some of Shea’s other leading men, but he’s still great. Quinn is her own woman, though. And she’s fantastic.
Lastly, we are left with Snow White. When I first started it, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel. Snow White has crippling social anxiety, and I wasn’t sure how I’d like her as a main character. But I should not have worried. She overcomes and conquers and saves the day.
The beginning books are technically stand-alones, but Frog Prince most definitely is not, and all the others afterward build on the story. Start with Beauty and the Beast and read in the numbered order (despite my bumping up of Puss in Boots). Enjoy. At least you won’t have to wait for any as I did.
This is probably my favorite of any fairytales series that I’ve read. Shea has a way of storytelling and pulling all the stories together to one final goal. Warning: this series doesn’t resolve the main driving problem. There’s another series that will be written this year finishing it off. But these are still entertaining, enjoyable books that entrance you and keep you reading.