Book Review: Twisted Tales – Go the Distance – Jen Calonita

Publisher: Autumn Publishing
Format: Paperback
Release Date: June 21st, 2021

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Twisted Tales: Twisted Tales Books / Straight on Till Morning – Liz Braswell [Books] / Twisted Tales: Mirror, Mirror – Jen Calonita [Books] / Twisted Tales: Let It Go – Jen Calonita / Twisted Tales: So This Is Love – Elizabeth Lim [Books] / Twisted Tales: Unbirthday – Liz Braswell

Anyone who has followed this blog for a while will know how much I love the Disney Twisted Tales series. The premise is simple – the authors change one element in beloved Disney stories, creating something new. This could be something that takes place before the film, during, at the end of…

If you’ve read my previous reviews, too, you might have picked up on the fact Jen Calonita is not my favourite when it comes to these stories. I have much preferred Elizabeth Lim’s stories, with Liz Braswell being my second favourite. And Hercules ranks as one of my favourite of the Disney films, sparking a love for Greek mythology when I was younger. So I was maybe a little bit apprehensive going into this one.

Still, the premise itself was intriguing – What if Meg had to become a god? My main issue with Calonita’s previous stories was that they didn’t really change much about the story, or they changed way too much. Snow White reads like a very slightly different version of the original film, though the ‘twist’ doesn’t come into play until the very end, meaning a lot of the differences throughout the book don’t actually make sense. The Frozen Twisted Tale – Conceal, Don’t Feel – had the sisters completely split up as children, and it just felt off. Though speaking to other fans of the series, I know others felt completely different, which is one thing I love about the Twisted Tales as a whole – everyone responds to different elements.

I was very pleasantly surprised by Go the Distance, and I feel like Calonita’s writing style is getting stronger, too. Go the Distance is set after the events of the Disney Hercules film. As the gods celebrate Hercules’ homecoming, Meg realises she cannot join Hercules in Olympus, and Hercules cannot return to her on earth. Although Hercules – as he does in the film – requests to be made mortal again, here Zeus refuses. But Hera offers Meg an opportunity. If she can complete a specific quest within a ten-day timeframe, she will be made a goddess, and can join the others on Mt. Olympus. But of course, deals with gods are never so simple, and Meg is tasked with descending to the Underworld and bringing back the woman her ex left her for. The same ex she traded away her own soul to save.

One aspect I really liked about this was the portrayal of Zeus. The film gives us a family man ideal of the god, seen through Hercules’ eyes, but Calonita makes this version much closer to the one in mythology. It feels more like a blend between Disney and mythology, rather than heavily leaning towards one or the other. And throughout the quest, Meg realises she has to learn to rely on others for help, not just herself. Being self-sufficient is all well and good, but to complete her journey she needs to get comfortable with the help offered to her by other characters.

Calonita blends the past and present, giving Meg a bit more of a backstory than in the film and allowing us to see Meg’s history, with her parents, Hades, and her ex. (I kind of missed the muses though.) There’s also a fair number of references to the film, which was fun.

However, some of the book felt just a little flat. There are elements of Meg’s character that felt squeezed in, especially when she kept repeating certain lines from the film. Honestly, for the most part it was more enjoyable to kind of disconnect this Meg from film Meg, probably because she doesn’t actually read like the Meg from the film. It wasn’t a hugely negative point – part of the fun of these books is seeing different sides to the characters – until it felt a little forced. It also felt at times like Calonita was squeezing in just a little too many different ideas and film references, something evident from the other Twisted Tales she’s written, too.

Still, I really enjoyed this, and it uses elements from the film as well as from mythology quite nicely, blending them together to make an interesting, fun read. If you’ve enjoyed this series so far, this is a really good addition.

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