Sleeping in Flame by Jonathan Carroll

SPOILERS AHEAD

They think you live and die and come back maybe ten or fifty or a hundred years from now. That’s wrong. You do live and die and come back, but not always in the future. Know why? Because after a certain date, there isn’t a future. There’s an end to our time here.

Walker is actually the thirty-first incarnation of Walter, the baby of the queen who guessed the name of Rumpelstiltskin. The twist is, she never did guess the little man’s true name. He took the baby and fled the story realm and somehow crossed over to the real world. He raised Walter as his son and loved him with everything he was. But Walter grew up and fell in love with a woman. His father couldn’t take that — he wanted Walter to love him first and above all others. So he killed Walter and brought him back to life in an effort to let Walter fix his mistake (of betraying his father by growing up and loving a human).

But every time, Walter made the same mistake. He was killed and brought back thirty times. It’s this life, the thirty-first, that Walter remembers all the others and his magic, and this time he refuses to let his beloved be harmed by his father. Once he’s remembered his father’s true name, which is the key to using magic (he says the name then the magic comes), he reincarnates the Wild sisters, Dortchen and Lisette, the original sources for the Grimms’ version of the little man’s tale. Turns out the Wild sisters made it up, basing it on a local human man. Breath was the true name of Rumpelstiltskin. Since they imagined him, created him, by making up a new ending they are able to erase him from existence.

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