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Once Upon a Spring Morn    by Dennis L. McKiernan order for
Once Upon a Spring Morn
by Dennis L. McKiernan
Order:  USA  Can
Roc, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Dennis L. McKiernan is back with his final installment of his seasonal cycle of books set in the fantastic land of Faery. Once Upon a Spring Morn tells the tale of the youngest child of King Valeray, Céleste, Princess of the Springwood, as she sets out with her newly beloved Roél to rescue his sister who is held captive by the Lord of the Changelings.

When Roél saves her from an attack by underlings of the witch Nefasí, Céleste immediately falls in love with him. After he tells her of his quest into Faery to rescue his sister - as well as his two older brothers who have already ventured through the twilight wall to save her - nothing can stop Céleste from accompanying her beloved on his treacherous journey. Along the way - just as they helped her siblings on their quests - the three Fates help Céleste with hers. However, their advice is always cryptic and many obstacles and tasks lie ahead, causing Céleste and Roél's trek to be laborious, especially since they only have a moon and day to rescue Roél's sister.

While the premise is the same as in his three previous novels set in Faery, McKiernan deviates from his modus operandi a little. While the three previous stories were based on fairy tales taken from Andrew Lang's colored books of fairy tales (i.e. the basis for Once Upon a Winter's Night was East of the Sun, West of the Moon from Andrew Lang's Blue Fairy Book), McKiernan uses other sources for this novel. In his Afterword, the author mentions that he based Once Upon a Spring Morn on a combination of an Arthurian legend, Le Bel Inconnu, and an English folktale, Childe Rowland. He also ventures outside the traditional fairy tale motif by including Ancient Egyptian and Greek myths as Céleste and Roél venture outside the realm of Faery. All of these elements combine into a wondrous tale of adventure and love.

Even though all four seasons have been covered, the bigger story arc that connects the four novels is not completely wrapped up by the end of Once Upon a Spring Morn, leaving fans of McKiernan's Faery rejoicing that there is one tale left to tell. According to the author's website, it combines all of the characters from the four seasonal novels. I know I cannot wait to see if King Valeray's family does indeed - as in any good fairy tale - live happily ever after.

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