Rachel Van Dyken: Upon A Midnight Dream

The Disney Version of Grease.

Romancing July: 30 Books, 30 Covers, 30 Days Cover Me and Review

Rachel Van Dyken reinvents a fairytale with whimsical and light writing.

Grade: D (Amazon 3 Stars)

Best Moment: When Stefan catches the swooning Rose the first time, and finds himself a reluctant and lusty knight in shining armour.

The book just about lost me when Stephan starts longing for the company of the “fuzzy little woodland creatures” who kept him company on the desert island he had been shipwrecked upon  (yeah, try to figure that one out).

Synopsis: This is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty in which  Stephan is a Lord and Rose is the oldest daughter of a Lord; their families are tied together by an old curse that demands that if they’re families ever fail to marry (well…if Rose’s family fails to marry into Stephan’s family which seems rather unfair as HIS family was the cause of the original curse), aa curse will visit the families and, basically, people will start dying off. Stephan runs off to India because he’s in love with his younger brother’s wife and returns when he is presumed dead to release Rose from her betrothal. Her particular mysterious curse leads her to randomly and unexpectedly pass out…right into her no longer betrothed’s arms. He finds himeself wondering if he’s been a little hasty. Onward with the story

The Good: Van Dyken has a unique take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale and crafts an interesting rationale behind the malady and a rather amusing application of the “sleeping.” At moments in the story, I found myself smiling over the situations the characters are put in just enough to keep me invested in finding out what happened and why. By the end of the story, I am invested in Stephan and Rose’s happiness. At the beginning, I am interested in figuring out what motivates them.

Also, Stephan is an interesting and unusual character who is initially called out for being nerdy and citified. He is awkward, but straightforward. His stumbling is cute and endearing. Rose is likable (when she’s not irrationally acting like a modern woman as opposed to a woman who for all intents and purposes appears happy to fulfill her duty at the beginning. For all of that, she can be fun to explore as she tries to test the mettle of Stephan.

Sadly, the initial development of this story is confusing and not very well written. There are gaping holes in character development and we jump, seemingly for no reason, from moment to moment that doesn’t have much to do with the main couple (a major no-no in the genre)…at least at first. The problem with this is that you alienate your reader because they are too busy trying to figure out what is going on and why we care if the character is INSTANTLY in love with his sister in law and off for India. The characterization of all the characters is a bit loose and free.

Though I love Disney as much if not more than the next girl, her blatant nod by using their exact names and then the dancing in the woods moment made me want to stop reading rather than charm me. It was a little painful to read as Rose wobbles about in the woods and then dances with Stephan.. It could have been cute and adorable, but the characterization and the scene just weren’t set up to handle that kind of moment properly.

I’ve  had a terrible time finishing this book. The writing was incredibly choppy, but as some of you may know…I needed to read this book. I’ve done a Cover Me on this book before as I experienced what we all know happens…

We’ve all been there. We’re wandering through a bookstore, or maybe  aimlessly searching suggestions, looking at  random lists on Amazon.com for something to read. Happily, we traipse through booktopias convinced that we’re going to find something wonderful to read and then… We are greeted with the cover.

Before I begin, I feel I must point out one very simple fact:

Most authors get absolutely no input in their covers, or, if they do, it’s mostly a kind of courtesy. Publishers rule. Authors weep and hope for reprints.

Challenge accepted. Unleashing Mockery… 

The original script for Rocky Horror Picture Show…shh…they’re about to start singing “Dammit Janet.”

Forgive the cover artists, for they know not what they do.

Okay, it is not often hard for me to mock things…but this one was incredibly difficult because, well, look at it! It’s already too funny for words. There it stands…sparkling forest of sparkles with an era-unplaceable couple. Our curlicued chipmunk heroine ready to nibble off the collar of doom from her Prince Cinderella before the clock strikes 12 and he must return to the set of Saturday Night Fever for a fitting. Why?! Why can’t they just be together? These time-travel romances are getting more and more specific with their elaborate backstories…

More Books With Benefits for You–>

Cover Me: Judith McNaught’s Until You

Review: Irene Preston’s Infamous

Editorial: Man’s Trash Is a Woman’s Treasure?

Stranger IN Fiction: An Open Letter to J.R. Ward (about Aggressive Males in Romance Fiction)



Categories: Cover Me, Reviews, Special Features

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3 replies

  1. Thank you so much for the review! As always I it’s great to see criticism good or bad ;) I’ll be sure to take everything into account when I am writing the rest of the series. I really appreciate you taking time to review the book! Have a fantastic weekend.—Rachel

  2. Ms. Van Dyken, we appreciate your comment. I’ve already got a couple more of your books loaded up on my kindle and I’m looking forward to reading them. You really do have some unique ideas!

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