Title: Half Upon A Time Author: James Riley Genre: Fantasy Series: Half Upon A Time #1
Blurb Life’s no fairy tale for Jack. After all, his father’s been missing ever since that incident with the beanstalk and the giant, and his grandfather keeps pushing him to get out and find a princess to rescue. Who’d want to rescue a snobby, entitled princess anyway? Especially one that falls out of the sky wearing a shirt that says “Punk Princess,” and still denies she’s royalty. In fact, May doesn’t even believe in magic. Yeah, what’s that about? May does need help though–a huntsman is chasing her, her grandmother has been kidnapped, and Jack thinks it’s all because of the Wicked Queen . . . mostly because May’s grandmother might just be the long-lost Snow White.
What I Liked Right away, the reader gets dropped into action. Now, normally, I like to form a connection with the character before I see them in any action scrapes. But this action scrape also serves to get the reader acquainted with Jack, a hero-in-training who is completely done and bored over his simulated princess rescuing. His voice is immediately unique and likable, and his dilemma relatable. May, the “princess”, is a sarcastic do-it-myself girl who I loved. She takes in stride the craziness she’s just been dropped into and maintains focus on her goal: find her grandmother. Some of her snark made me laugh out loud while reading.
What I Would Have Liked to See My biggest problem with the book is that practically nothing was resolved at the end. I understand it’s the first in a trilogy, but there are so many loose ends it becomes hard to keep track. I dislike endings that are purely a segue for the next in the series, and that’s what this is. I feel like I MUST read book #2 in order to get any sort of closure from events, which makes me grumbly.
My Favorite! The thing that made me buy this book was May wearing a shirt that says “Punk Princess.” I laughed out loud at that.
TL;DR A spin on classic fairy tales, a sarcastic “princess,” a likable “hero,” and a good twist ending. Overall, this is a fun read for ages 8-12.