I mentioned in the about me part of this blog that I love new versions of fairytales. This includes worlds like Ever After High by Shannon Hale.
In summary, Ever After High is about the children of famous fairy tale characters as they go through high school, learning how to fulfill the same roles as their parents did in their stories. If they don’t follow their destinies of reenacting their parents stories, then they will go poof. However, Raven Queen, daughter of the Evil Queen from the story Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Apple White, daughter of Snow White, is afraid that Raven going rogue will cause everyone to go poof.
There’s some obvious plot holes in EAH, but I still love it. Like, how are all the stories going to continue if each original fairy tale character needs an heir?
My first example is Beauty and the Beast. Rosabelle Beauty is the daughter of Beauty and the Beast, but who is going to be the Beast when Rosabelle graduates and needs to follow her story? The obvious answer is Beast’s son. But that would be the Beast’s son, Rosabelle’s brother… ew. There is no son mentioned, yet, in either the books or the webisode series. Either way, there’s a shortage of heirs without going to incest for answers.
The books and webisode series do try to answer this by having a family Charming, with two sons currently attending the school, Daring and Dexter. In the webisode Blondie Branches Out, the Charming boys present a chart that demonstrates how they are not related to the Charmings of Nottingham Forest or the Charmings of Neverafter. Dexter and Daring’s sister, Darling Charming, has her own narration in which she lists off all the different branches of Charming families in the book Ever After High: Once Upon a Time: A Story Collection (Hale, 2014) So there are plenty of Prince Charming’s to go around. Also in the book, the Charming siblings Daring, Dexter, and Darling attend a Charming Family Ball. It is basically a family outing that would be a picnic or barbecue among other families, but since there are so many Charmings, they call it a ball.
Dexter Charming’s narration also explains that Charming prince’s story destinies are assigned by whatever highest-profile destiny is available the year students are assigned destinies (their second year at Ever After High). Daring, Dexter’s brother, is the highest profile Charming in their year and the highest-profile destiny of this year’s students is the Prince Charming of the Snow White story. So it’s obvious what destiny Daring has, but Dexter has no idea. Dexter wonders about the other destinies available to him, like Beast or the Marsh King. Dexter’s narration indicates that not all roles are directly hereditary but can be filled by fairy tale successors who fit the requirements for each particular tale.
My second example is Ashlynn Ella. In the book Ever After High: Once Upon a Time: A Story Collection (Hale, 2014), Ashlynn’s mother is still clearly alive, though Ashlynn does sadly acknowledge that someday her mother will die in order for Ashlynn to become the new Cinderella and fulfill her destiny. I am glad that the books acknowledge this sad truth, but the webisodes certainly do not. Further, there is no mention of Cinderella having gone to EAH or of her knowing that her mother would have to die in order for Cinderella to be Cinderella. Also, in the webisode Ashlynn’s Fashion Frolic, her two step-sisters show up and steal her fashion show. This implies that Ashlynn’s story has already begun as she has two step-sisters. they had been referred to as her “future step-sisters” in the webisode, it would have worked out, but they weren’t. So there are some discrepancies between the books and webisodes.
My third example is that it is rarely ever mentioned how far back the fairy tales have been repeated. To use Blondie Branches Out as an example again, Blondie does show a family tree, but only mentions her mother as being a part of the story Goldie Locks and the Three Bears. The audience reading the EAH books knows the fairy tales used in EAH as the original stories (well, mostly the Disney versions) and recognizes the names of the EAH students’ parents as being the names of the characters in the fairy tales. My point is, the audiences’ beliefs are that the EAH parents are the originals, though the books imply that there are generations before them that have continuously lived out the stories. An example to clear this idea up is Cinderella. If Ashlynn’s mother is Cinderella, then wouldn’t she be the original from the story? If that is true, then how would the story Cinderella have been repeated for generations?
In summary, my issues with the Ever After High books are about how some of the students are going to fulfill their destinies by following their parents’ stories but there are some essential characters missing because of successors being related and the haziness of whether or not the stories have been repeated for generations or not.
However, I also think these plot holes are on purpose. Two other characters in the books and webisodes are Milton and Giles Grimm. The Grimm brothers. What we know from the books is that they’re centuries old and Milton founded EAH in 1812, though one of the webisodes shows that they do have parents and were once children. Milton Grimm is the Headmaster at Ever After High while his brother Giles is for most of the first three books imprisoned in the Vault of Lost Tales with a babbling curse set on him. Milton Grimm takes pretty desperate measure in both the books and the webisodes to cover up the plot holes I just discussed and to convince the students at EAH that they must follow their destinies, even if the EAH world might be better off if the children of evil parents didn’t fulfill their destinies.
Milton’s desperation has me convinced that the fairy tales stories do not need to repeated over and over again each generation in order for them not to disappear and that everyone can choose their destiny. Personally, I think this will be revealed and spell the ending of the series.