"The book is a film that takes place in the mind of the reader." ~ Paulo Coelho

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Book Review: One Bad Apple - by Rachel Kovaciny

 Howdy, “pardners”!

February is sometimes agreed to be the gloomiest month of the year, but it is almost behind us. I didn’t think it was that boring (I mean, there’s snow, so that’s good in all ways!) but these early months are good for reading and I did a lot of that. Technically, I read the book that I’m reviewing now in October, but all the same I think it could be ideal for all of you in this kind of weather to brighten your mood.

This book is the third in the Once Upon a Western series. All of these books are fairy tales retold in a western setting without any magic! Well, that last part isn’t true as Ms. Kovaciny must use magic while writing to make these books so delightful. None of the books contain the same characters (expect for small cameos that please me tremendously) so you can read them in any order. All the same, if you want to read the books in the order that she wrote them, but want to know more, then here are my reviews for the other books in the series:
Book 1: Cloaked
Book 2: Dancing and Doughnuts

My guarantee: On ALL of my reviews there are NO spoilers unless I give you warning. This is spoiler free!

One Bad Apple - by Rachel Kovaciny:
Levi Dalton and his six siblings and cousins have been left all alone by their covered wagon train. They have all lost their parents and their only remaining guardian is an uncle they have never met but they have to get to him in Junction City. Soon they are found by a wagon train consisting of all Black pioneers. They let the children join their group, but only a few, like Hopeful Mallone and her father, trust them. Levi is soon fascinated by Hopeful’s stepmother who helps heal people and he wants to learn her ways. All seems to be going well, but is something sinister brewing on the horizon?

Genres: Western, Fairytale retelling, Young Adult.
Characters: 9, the characters were great! Ms. Kovaciny deals well with working with big casts of characters and making them unique. It could be quite hard to wrangle all of Levi’s relatives, but she does it with easy as well as have prominent members of the wagon train.
My favorites:
Levi: He is my precious child. This fourteen year old boy is so realistic! He is so sweet with just wanting to help people so there aren’t more deaths as he’s lost too many people already. He wants to be seen by his family but he hates too much attention.
Hopeful: Her name suits her 100%. She sees the good in people, but she isn’t naive and recognizes danger. Too few people listen to her, but she is still strong. Her love of God makes all others hopeful, too!
Jacob: He gets the role of being the oldest and trying to watch out for all the other kids. He is very distant, but not in a lazy way, very understandably. This sentence describes him perfectly: ‘The surest way of making him refuses to do something was by urging him to do it.’
Ness: Poor Ness goes through a lot, but I love him. He is patient and kind, which are the best things.
Words/Writing style: 9. No bad words at all. It is told in first person, past tense. The reason that I enjoy it so much is because it is told through Levi’s perspective! It is the perfect basis for the story. I wouldn’t have thought of it, but nothing could’ve fit it better. Grief has made him grow up quickly, but he is still very much a child.
‘The ache of missing them had become a tender throb and not the first sharp pain I’d thought would split me like kindling.’
World building/Setting: 8. This is a new category for me! It is set on a wagon train heading west which fits the story like a glove. I have done a lot of research about the Oregon Trail, but I still learned loads.
Quotability: N/A. As my reviews mature (at least, I think they’re maturing and getting better...) I’ve found that this doesn’t apply much to books. Mostly because I have no one to quote them too unless my sisters are familiar with them. Don’t doubt that this had good lines, though!
Content: 9. There is death and how to deal with grief which is very poignant. Other death is there with killing and plotting, but it is shown to be wrong. It also addresses racism and shows how judgement is a terrible thing, which I loved!
Originality: 10. I love the fairy tale of Snow White and therefore have read many versions. This was new in all ways! Ms. Kovaciny is not lacking creativity in any ways. There are tie-ins to a certain Shakespeare play which are well done. I’m only mildly acquainted with that play, but I’m sure others who know it more will notice things I didn’t catch.
Good For: Fairy tale lovers, western fans, families.
Age Range: Though this is Young Adult, it is perfectly fine for any age. In fact, I think it could be beneficial for younger readers especially, but older people will enjoy this, too.
Overall Score: 9!
Worth reading?: Indeed, as the day is long! Sorry, that might not make any sense but I’m trying to sound like I’m from the west. The Snow White factor brought me in, but Levi ensured that I stayed! It is a Christian book as Hopeful’s father is a Reverend and has messages of faith. If I had been in a different mood I might’ve found it “preachy” in one or two places, but it was just what I needed at the time.
Will I read again?: I went through all the trouble of getting a copy, so yes I will! I want my sisters to enjoy it, too, though they aren’t as into Snow White as I am.
Bonus thoughts:
“Don’t matter what you look like so much as what you do!”
There is a character I can’t forget to mention, Mrs. Mallone! She is a very complicated character, and while her relationship with one character felt rushed, I know that this is a short book so there isn’t a lot of time to delve into things.
American History month, and this book is rich in just that! This book is inspiring for what people went through way back when, but African Americans had even bigger troubles. This book takes a look at that and is eye-opening. Let’s not make that same mistake as history did.

By the way, after, and only after, you’ve read this then you should read Rachel’s short story, Run, Run! It takes another fairy tale and uses these characters to take a peek into their lives after the book has ended.

There you have it! Have any of you read this? What are your favorite Snow White retellings? Tell me some other African American books (or movies!) that I should try. Thanks for reading!



  1. Great review! I've been wanting to read this one for awhile now.

    1. Thanks! It is made of creativity, mystery, fun, and a dash of history that makes it seem real. I hope you like it!

  2. I enjoyed this one when I read it over the summer! I find Rachel's approach to fairy tales very interesting--the non-magical aspect really forces a lot of fun creativity.

    1. Lucky you, you got to read it three months before me. ;) It certainly is challenging and she pulls it off so well. I tried once, and let's just say that it fell flat.

  3. Agh I want to read this one!! Cloaked was so much fun.

    1. Her stories just keep getting more and more awesome, so you're in for a treat with this and Dancing and Doughnuts!

  4. Such a fantastic take on Snow White. I loved Levi too!

    1. You are a Snow White expert yourself so your stamp of approval means something! Levi was great on so many levels.

  5. I'm so happy you enjoyed it! Thanks for this lovely review :-)

    1. No problem! I'm so happy that you wrote it in the first place and are cooking up another story! :-)


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