I gave brief thoughts on each of the books during my monthly round-ups, but I thought I would discuss the four books released in the Never After Series by Emily McIntire in one post. I find these to be really interesting. Each book is standalone, so you don’t have to read them in order for each of them to understand what’s happening. They are fractured fairy tales, meaning they have references to the original stories but are not retellings by any means. They are also dark and feature mature and graphic content. So, there are trigger warnings (different ones) for each of the books.
The books so far released in the series are:
- Published: September 7, 2021
- Page Count: 340
- Genres: Organized Crime, Kidnapping, Romance
- Fractured Fairy Tale of Peter Pan
- Published: January 4, 2022
- Page Count: 348
- Genres: Vigilante Justice, Fairy Tale, Gothic Romance
- Fractured Fairy Tale of The Lion King
- Published: April 19, 2022
- Page Count: 308
- Genres: Organized Crime, Fairy Tale, Romance
- Fractured Fairy Tale of The Wizard of Oz
- Published: February 7, 2023
- Page Count: 365
- Genres: Romance
- Fractured Fairy Tale of Aladdin
- Published: August 1, 2023
- Page Count: 418
- Genres: Romance
- Fractured Fairy Tale of The Hunchback of Notre Dame
For each of these books, I would give a 3.5-star rating out of 5 stars. I could not put these books down, but each had elements that held me back from rating them higher. Generally revolving around the dark elements of the book. I read a lot of books of this nature, so it doesn’t “trigger” me, but that still doesn’t mean I jive with it. Especially with the language used during the sex scenes. I’m all for dirty talk, but some of the dirty talks just turns me off. Some people like degrading comments and others don’t. I fall into the last group, and that’s often what is used during those scenes. To each their own. I still enjoyed the books, but that’s where the ratings went down for me.
I seriously loved reading each of these books to find references to the original tale. Some of the books made it more obvious than others, especially on the name front. Except for Tinkerbell, who becomes Tina Belle in Hooked, almost all of the names are the same as in the original story. Wendy is the daughter of Peter. In Scarred, the names were similar or at least started with the same first letter: Paul is Pumba, Simon is Simba, Timothy is Timon, etc. There were also more Hamlet references, which is what The Lion King was inspired by, included in Scarred. In Wretched, the characters all have different names, and it’s more of a guessing game to figure out who’s who. The only characters that didn’t have completely different names were Dorothy and their mother, Glinda. The rest are changed mainly because you’re not going to call them characters: the cowardly lion, the tin man, etc. My guess on who’s who is: Eveline (Wicked Witch of the West), Nessa (Wicked Witch of the East), Zeke (the cowardly lion), Cody (the Wizard of Oz), and Eveline’s father (the scarecrow). There are, of course, others, but those are the main ones. And then in Twisted, the names line up similarly to the ones in Scarred. Jafar is Julian, Jasmine is Yasmin, Iago is Ian, Rajah is Riya, the Genie is Jeannie, Aladdin is Aidan, and so on. In Crossed, the first letter more or less lines up with the characters from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. There’s Father Cade Frédéric (Frollo), Amaya (Esmeralda, which is her stage name), Quinten (Quasimodo), and Parker (Captain Phoebus).
In terms of romance, each story has its own set of tropes. Hooked is kidnapped with Stockholm Syndrome, Scarred is a forbidden relationship because the MC is engaged to the Scarred Prince’s brother and would be killed for being with him, Wretched is enemies to lovers granted one party is unaware they are enemies but there is definitely distrust or hatred between the pair leading up to that discovery, and Twisted is an arranged marriage with an age gap. And while two of the books cover organized crime, they do so from different perspectives. The first (Hooked) is about rival crime organizations going against each other (Hook vs. Pan), and the second (Wretched) is about the DEA trying to bust a drug organization by using an undercover agent to find their supplier, who turns out to be Eveline (not a spoiler since it’s revealed at the beginning of the book). While Twisted includes organized crime (Sultans running both the legal and illegal sides of the diamond market), its operation doesn’t feature that heavily in the book. Though the ownership of it does. Crossed is forbidden romance as he’s a priest and she gets engaged to her abuser in an attempt of safety; there’s also stalking involved between the main couple.
I’m curious to see what the next book in the series is going to be. I still think a Little Mermaid would be interesting, especially from a dark, fractured “re-telling” perspective. But that might be hard since I doubt there would be actual mermaids involved (these don’t involve magic or fantasy creatures, though that could always change), but it could be pirate-themed, which would be interesting.
Have you read the Never After Series or any of these books? If so, what did you think?
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