Caitlyn and I have long enjoyed visiting the Lost Unicorn regions held by Natalie Montagne and designed by Noralie78. The designs offered within them have been the most captivating of any within Second Life. Sadly, as I reported in The closing of a Storybook in Second Life in March 2020, one of the region designs – Storybook Forest – went away, although in a kind-of compensation, Noralie78 went on to design Finian’s Dream, also held by Natalie (see A touch of Celtic magic in Second Life).
But, and as the saying goes, you just can’t put a good book down, so Storybook Forest is once again back; this time with a new name – a simple Storybook -, a slightly different approach and entirely the work of Natalie, who announced the new design in her blog on June 26th, 2020:
I have been working on and just recently completed my first attempt at building a region all on my own. I had a lot of fun and am pretty excited about it and am ready to share it with everyone 🙂 Remember Storybook Forest at Lost Unicorn? This is an all new version … now called Storybook. It is above the gallery region, Faerie Tale.
– Natalie Montagne, Lost Unicorn Gallery blog
As a sky build, Natalie has been able to combine the new design almost seamlessly with a mountainous region surround. This gives the real feeling that this is – to coin a phrase used in relation to fairy tales – a land far, far away, something which the ground-level Storybook Forest couldn’t achieve to the same degree. A further difference between this design and that past iteration is that this includes a number of rentals properties that present people with the chance to live within a fairytale setting, and of which more anon.
Visitors initially arrive at a landing point sitting on its own – a click of the storybook there will carry them onwards to the setting itself, delivering them to a small town setting that may at first look quite ordinary. But again, as a saying goes – looks can be deceptive. A mouse looking a little like Stuart Little awaiting a tour guide stands close to the landing point; down the street, another mouse is carrying a try of drinks and cakes in the café; the street, an antlered jackalope enjoys a cup of hot chocolate while another bunny is preparing to take a photograph – perhaps of the little robot trundling down the street or perhaps of Mary Poppins, who is dropping in via umbrella overhead (so much so that it’s hard not to hear the melody of A Spoonful of Sugar as she drifts in).
The little town marks the heart of the setting – and the detail that has been poured into it: as well as the characters on the streets, the little shops are all given furnishing and décor entirely within the contexts of a storybook setting; but it what lies beyond it that gives the land its soul. The T-shaped streets all end in tall wrought iron gates, neatly splitting the land into three area of exploration: south and east, north and west, and westwards, with the first two – south and east and north and west – having paths that loop through them to return to the little town fairly close to the landing point.
Which route you take is entirely a matter of choice: all three offer much to see, although the forest itself lies through the gates that sit to the west, within an archway of a great castle. Beyond them, steps descend into the forest, mist snaking among the trees, the paths between the tall trunks set out with paved slabs of stone, each with a name that reflects the theme to be found along them: Cinderella Way, Brave Boulevard and Snow White St.
Each of these gives a clue as to what lies along them by way of vignettes. Those familiar with the past iteration of Storybook Forest will be pleased to note that here – and elsewhere – familiar characters from that build can still be found, although some are now offered in a new aspect of their story, as is the case with Snow White. There are also some new characters to be found as well. Follow Brave Boulevard, for example to its twisting end you’ll discover the old woman who lived in a shoe sitting and reading, while her children are at play. Behind them, their shoe (or in this case boot) house rises – and a careful examination will reveal it is one of the units available for rent.
And therein lies the secret of seven rentals here: all of them are offered in a style entirely in keeping with the vignette they may be placed alongside, or the theme of the setting as a whole- shoe, forest cabin, pear house, watchtower and more, none of which interfere with people’s ability to explore.
Elsewhere are other reminders of the previous iterations of the design: Alice is still attending an unusual tea party; the little village of animal houses curves around one of the paths, while books and quotes on stories await discovery.
Within the castle – a new addition that forms a gallery space – the Wonderland theme continues on the lower floor with the Red Queen / Queen of Hearts waits. Through its halls, floors and towers can be found more of the Storybook Forest characters, offered in reflection of the art on display: interpretations of Peter Pan (while Captain Hook’s ship floats over the region), Cinderella, Snow White and Hansel and Gretel, making for a visit in its own right.
The new design offers a setting that captures much of the magic of the original whilst offering something new – a new chapter in Storybook’s tale.
- Storybook (Faerie Tale, rated Moderate)