Once Upon a Time: Red’s Untold Tale by Wendy Toliver (Book Review)

redRed is 16 and lives with Granny in a cottage in the village, where boarding up the house and hiding during Wolfstime is a means of survival. Red help’s Granny with Granny’s baked good business, catering as well as door-to-door sales.
Red has a constant internal battle between her wild side and her strict, overprotective upbringing, and the issue of “control” as she discovers she has a hot temper when the “mean girls” push her too far. (“When we learn to control it, we needn’t fear it,” Rumpelstiltskin says in the series.) She has flashbacks to her 13th year when she received her cloak and the nickname “Red.” She is plagued by nightmares that she doesn’t understand, but the Once Upon a Time fans will recognize them as her wolf side coming out.
Red balances the difficult times with Granny at home and the girls at school with an emerging and satisfying romance with Peter.

Publisher: Kingswell Teen
Page Count: 416

When I first layed eyes upon the cover, I was instantly smitten and simply had to have the book. I am a regular viewer of Once Upon a Time and Red/Ruby was one of my favourite characters on it, so in the end there was no getting around me reading that story. Unfortunately, it was a little bit of a disappointment.

The book is dedicated to the fans of the TV show and I can see the appeal of finding out more about the backstory of secondary characters. However, fact is that even though it is called “Red’s Untold Tale”, you really don’t find out all that much new stuff about her. I am struggling to put this all into words, so as always when this happens, I am trying to come up with a list to clear my mind!

What I Liked

  • However odd the relationship between Granny and Red may be, it was nice to see them in a day-to-day setting. But I have to admit that good ol’ Granny isn’t at her most likable in this story.
  • Peter and Red were absolutely adorable, in a having-been-friends-forever-but-now-we-have-feelings-for-each-other-and-don’t-want-to-admit-it-even-though-it’s-clear-as-daylight-to-everyone-else kind of way. The book was written very teen-oriented, so I think the slow building romance and the torturing longing was appropriate.
  • I cannot stand mean girls! Violet and her gang were some of the most terrible human beings ever, but they sure worked as villains and gladly only made Red stronger in the end.

What I Didn’t Like

  • Nothing really happened. And I am not exaggerating! There is a little romance, there is bullying from other girls at school, fear of wolves and Red fighting with Granny, but in the end there was no story arc. You got glimpses of how Red became who she became, but sometimes it was more like reading a diary than reading a thoroughly plotted story. A lot of things were mentioned, but nothing was followed through and it ended completely open.
  • When I think of Red/Ruby, I think of a really badass woman, who won’t be held back by anyone and who can stand up for herself and that was just not the case in this book. I really didn’t even recognise the girl in the book to be the same person and I am not sure that’s a good thing. I do understand that this is a younger and probably also more carefree and naive Red, but still.
  • Even though the live in the Enchanted Forrest, people are really reluctant to believe in magic and fairy tales. Also, they referred to Snow White and Cinderella as a storybook princesses, even though they live in the same realm. Does that just seem weird to me or is this legitimately confusing?

I guess I could have gone into a bit more detail, but in case you still want to read it, I want it to have at least a few surprises in store for you! I am afraid I expected a little more from it – more depth, more story, more Red (the way I know her) and wolves. I think I can best explain it by saying that it felt more like a teaser for Red’s story, rather than her actual tale.


Fazit: 2.8/5 stars! A fluffy, teen romance with not much substance and probably mostly appeal to hardcore OUAT fans.


15 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time: Red’s Untold Tale by Wendy Toliver (Book Review)

  1. I haven’t heard of this book before. I have just started watching OUAT, so this book would most likely have caught my eye based on its description. I do like books that have a storyline that moves along, though! I might have to pass on this one. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I thought it would have more to it. I don’t want to be the one putting you off the book, but I just think that it’s a little unnecessary, especially since Red’s backstory is mostly explained in the show anyway.


  2. I am a big OUAT fan (though I am horrendously behind), and when I saw this book I almost picked it up. Like you, Red is one of my favorite characters. But something about the cover struck me as “a book written just to get more tv viewers” and in the end I didn’t buy it. I’m kind of glad I didn’t, though I still wish that they would release a story that does Red justice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am sad that this book disappointed me … I just think they would have fared better if they had chosen a different time period from her tale. Her being 16-ish, naively in love and letting everything sound like a fluffy teen novel isn’t what you expect when you want to read about Red. But whatever … there are people who really loved it, so maybe it’s just me.

      Liked by 1 person

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