Cover Image: Once More Upon a Time

Once More Upon a Time

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Member Reviews

This was a short and sweet fairytale about lost love, whimsy and second chances at happy endings, and it was an excellent palate cleanser from the the horror I've been reading.

This was definitely an unusual fairytale love story, but still very enjoyable. At only 170 pages, you would think the story would be underdeveloped and romance would, for lack of a better word, blah. But it wasn't! It was fleshed out and very cute. 

I wanted more though! More pages!!! More story!! More of Ambrose and Imelda being obliviously in love!! It was short and did what it said: told a love story. But it left me wanting more.

If the story were longer and had even more angst and higher stakes, I think this would definitely had been a 4-5 star book. Roshani Chokshi is an excellent writer and storyteller, and I would have loved a longer book with these characters. Some of my favorite lines were when she described the longing that our main characters were feeling for each other (swoon!!).

Either way, this was such an enjoyable and light read that was just what the doctor ordered: fluff.

Thank you SOURCEBOOKS Casablanca and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy) in exchange for an honest review.
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Once More Upon A Time was a charming novella by Roshani Chokshi, author of The Gilded Wolves and other fantasy novels. The premise of this is rather simple, but also not: It’s a retelling of the 12 dancing princesses fairytale, focusing on one specific sister and her ill-fated, cursed marriage. 

Because it was a novella, this moved along at a nice clip – both a good thing and a bad thing, I would say. 

In this book you’ll find…

💫 A lot of whimsy
💫 Many, many people who are inexplicably related to one another
💫 Witches a plenty
💫 A talking cloak that thinks it is a horse? I never understood this bit. 
💫 A sweet forgotten romance
💫 A honey badger that doesn’t give a shit

I know, it feels weird to type.

In all, I give Once More Upon A Time THREE out of FIVE stars. The pacing just felt far too fast – I think it needed to be a full-length novel with more depth, or a novella with less depth. Not what it was, which felt like a novel crammed in a novella’s body.

Thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca and Netgalley for this advance reader copy.
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Once More Upon a Time is a completely captivating, charming and comedic fairy tale novella about what happens after you find what is supposed to be your happily ever after.

Imelda is one of the twelve dancing princesses. Contrary to popular belief, she and her sisters had good cause to wear their slippers out every night and no, that reason wasn’t a curse. Now that the gardener’s assistant has ‘saved’ them all and ruined her life, she is wondering what to do with herself. Then she, in the manner of all good fairy tale princesses, falls in love.

Ambrose is a prince and a disappointment to his father. He constantly fails at fulfilling his princely duties and instead, always winds up doing something completely unexpected. For example, when Ambrose is sent to kill the dragon harming the family’s patch of heirloom tomatoes, rather than just slaughtering the beast, he talks to him. Ambrose learns the poor dragon is incinerating the delicious delicacies because they had been grown from the poisoned waters of a nearby pool and would kill the population if eaten. In exchange for his charitable endeavors, Ambrose gives the dragon a medal and a job, and now the beast happily incinerates with the full blessing of the kingdom. Ambrose’s older brother had, of course, killed his own dragon and thus laid claim to the throne.

Fortunately, Ambrose attends the wedding of the dancing princess and the gardener, meets her sister Imelda, falls in love, and is offered the throne of the small kingdom of Love’s Keep. As the narrator informs us:

“It is an unoriginal yet instructive name because to protect it and for the land to grow and all the denizens within to be hale and happy, the king and queen must always be in love.”

Ambrose and Imelda are delighted. They are young, in love, royal and have an enchanted kingdom to rule over. Then Imelda makes the near fatal mistake of having a salad and one of the poisoned tomatoes from Ambrose’s kingdom winds up on her plate. She’s dying when a witch offers to take their love in exchange for a spell to save Imelda’s life.  Ambrose agrees to the bargain.  They no longer love each other but they are allowed to stay at Love’s Keep for a year and a day till the kingdom kicks them out for lacking amore.

Ambrose and Imelda live separate lives in the palace, rarely speaking or crossing paths, with each of them wondering what they had ever seen in each other. Then when their time is up and they are getting ready to leave, the witch reappears and offers them another bargain. And that’s where the tale really begins – but I won’t tell you anything about it because this story is less than 150 pages long and I don’t want to spoil any of it.

Ms. Chokshi does an incredible job of packing a lot into a little. Her short tale covers the realities of marital love, difficult family relationships and how our childhood informs our adulthood. If you are a fan of Disney’s Tangled or the classic film The Princess Bride, (guilty on both counts) I think you will absolutely adore it. There’s a comedic horse, the princess rescues the prince over and over, there’s plenty of adventure and the characters are whimsical, endearing, relatable, intelligent, funny, kind and really add depth to what could have been a very cheesy, breezy narrative.

That said, I strongly recommend Once More Upon a Time to any lover of fairytale romance. It’s subtly sexy, delightful and loads of fun.

Buy it at Amazon, Audible or your local independent retailer

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This was a short, cute, novella fairytale. I often struggle with novellas because I like having a more developed plot and characters.  Since it was such a short book the beginning and the story and character set up was a bit rushed. The writing style was sassy, fun and easy to read. If you’re looking for a quick, fluffy, feel good novella, pick this one up.
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I always loved fairytales so this was something I was really looking forward to read.. Best way to explain this is Hallmark meets Disney in a mix of fairy tail elements. Magic, curses, lost love, witches, honey badger, horse cloak, enchanted shoes, imagine it and its there, wrapped in this package of quirky fairytale,
By all means this is a fun read, fast paced and interesting. It’s also really short and for me it felt like the author tried to put as many ideas as possible into it, which resulted in maybe not having enough time. It just feels a little packed yet missing a kick.
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This was a very cute second chance romance and I loved every second of it! Roshani Chokshi knows how to write great romances and this story is one of my favourites of hers.
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Charming, suggestive and reminiscent of children’s bedtime fairytales, Once More Upon A Time was the perfect light-hearted breather in between books. It filled me with joy and brightened up my day. For a novella, Chokshi accomplished a lot in the space of 264 pages and from start to end, it was an absolute delight to read.

When I requested to review Once More Upon A Time, I was not aware that it had been previously released as an Audiobook nor was I aware that it was a novella. So I can only guess that they released it in book format, as well. I simply saw Roshani Chokshi, romance and I said, yes please! Personally, the story works better in written format as opposed to an audiobook, judging by some reviews on Goodreads.

Ambrose and Imelda are cursed by a witch. During their wedding brunch, Imelda had fallen ill after consuming a rotten tomato and to save Imelda’s life, both of them had to give up their love for one another. Imelda’s father, the king, had gifted the young couple a kingdom called the Love’s Keep which required their rulers to be in love in order for the land to thrive. But, seeing as their love had been taken away, after a year and a day from their wedding day, Ambrose and Imelda are forced from their loveless kingdom and back to the lives they knew. This is where the story starts. 

After a year and a day, Ambrose and Imelda have grown accustomed to the quiet and peaceful life they’ve led, despite their loveless fate and are unwilling to return to their previous lives. But, the same witch who cursed them appears as they are about to leave Love’s Keep and promises to give them what they want the most, if they perform a favour for her. Tempted by her promises, Ambrose and Imelda set off on an adventure, along with a cloak that thought itself a horse, where they would meet a variety of quirky characters, get into a series of delightful mishaps and perhaps, even fall in love. Again.

The language used in Once More Upon A Time is simple but in true Roshani Chokshi fashion, is beautiful and evocative. And, the plot does not delve deeper into the intricacies of storytelling. However, while some might consider this a flaw, it works when you consider that it’s meant to follow the vein of fairytales. And, it does so by incorporating thematics such as a princess from the Twelve Dancing Princesses, a snow queen, talking animals, quirky witches, true love’s kiss, enchanted furniture and more!

The narrator is also rather sassy which made for a fun reading experience.

Both Ambrose and Imelda are delightful characters to follow. Imelda is witty, independent, completely capable and dislikes Ambrose. She is also very sassy which makes her perspectives so fun. On the other hand, Ambrose is very sweet and likeable. Their banter was fantastic; akin to enemies to lovers forced to be together. It was heart-warming to follow along on their adventures and watch them slowly but surely fall in love. The two characters shared an undeniable chemistry that spoke volumes of Chokshi’s talents at writing two characters in love in such a short amount of space; they were also well-rounded and compelling. 

If there was one thing I could change about Once More Upon A Time is to have it longer because I wanted so much more of the sweet and slightly chaotic silliness that only fairytales such as this can bring about. There’s so many other quirky and cute details I did not include in this review so I highly encourage you to grab a copy of it when you need a laugh and some brightness in your day.
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3/5 ⭐️s

This is exactly what it claims to be, and that’s okay.  It’s a cute, breezy fairytale that you can read in one sitting.  Is it going to blow you away?  No.  But it’s a great escape for a bit.
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This book is a quick and easy read that is basically a fairytale. A King and Queen were cursed by a witch so are no longer in love. A year later the witch sends them on a quest where they begin to fall in love again.

It was a fun read and I did enjoy it but it was quite a simple storyline and pretty predictable (not that that's necessarily a bad thing!)
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A really cute book that was a quick and easy read. The two mains were both very likeable and their reluctant yearning hit so good. It’s a little chaotic at times but never to a point you’re not sure on why it’s included.
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I love fairytales with witty dialouge and over the top elements and this one had plenty of both. The talking cloak who believes that he is a horse is absolutely hilarious!   But what really makes this book stand out is the growth of the characters and the positive message about being willing to take risks and make sacrafices for another person.  Great for fans of fairy tale retellings especially fans of My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand.
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I ADORED this story! A royal, lovers to strangers to lovers once more (upon a time hehe) with a one bed trope! What’s not to love?
I got sent a digital advanced reading copy of this book by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!
“Once upon a dream, there was a prince named Ambrose
and a princess named Imelda who loved each other...
But alas, no more.
"What a witch takes, a witch does not give back!"
their friends and family warn.
They resign themselves to this loveless fate...
A year and a day pass.
And then their story truly begins...”
The writing was so incredibly beautiful. I felt like I was a kid again, reading my favourite princess books. It was like reading a more mature fairy tale. Nothing too extreme or anything, though I couldn’t help but blush at a few moments.
This story is filled with little nods to different fairy tales (The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Sleeping Beauty, Snow-white, and more!). I’m sure I missed loads of references because I was so heavily focused on the tension between Imelda and Ambrose. They were such perfectly imperfect characters who I couldn’t help but love instantly.
I rated this novella 4/5 stars. It was a bit hard to get into but once the store picked up, I was hooked. 5/5 stars for the pining though.
If you want a quick and cute read, definitely check this out!
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Forgotten love can be remembered. That is the lesson of this fairytale. Great imagery gives the story life.
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I absolutely adore Roshani Chokshi writing. I will literally read anything she publishes in the future. Once More Upon a Time was absolutely adorable. It was a quick fairytale read and I loved Imelda and Ambrose. I can’t wait to purchase a physical copy for my collection. Thank you NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read an amazing short story.
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I received this book as an eARC from Netgalley. All opinions are my own!

Ambrose and Imelda used to love each other, but that time has passed and now they both simply want to be free. So they'll do whatever it takes to find that freedom, but maybe it will find them first.

I can't even begin to describe how much I loved this book! It was so freaking cute and beautiful and I adored literally everything about it! For starters, it was beautifully written, and the narration was so unique that it really stood out from all the modern fairy tales that I've ever read. 

This story was light-hearted and just made me feel good all around. It was funny and entertaining even when it touched on the heavier topics of the characters' lives and artfully weaved that into the story. The romance was the cutest thing I have ever witnessed and I found myself smiling so much while reading this. This will definitely be a go-to for me whenever I need a pick-me-up!

If you like light-hearted fantasy and fairy tales, please pick this book up! You won't regret it!
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I've LOVED every single thing Roshani Chokshi has ever written, and this was no exception.

A unique take on a few lesser known fairy tales from the Grimm vault, Once More Upon a Time offers gripping prose, unexpected plot twists, and characters that grow through a familiar yet fresh journey to find a solution to a problem they didn't create. 

The pacing in this novella is perfect--there wasn't a single moment that I lost interest or found my thoughts drifting. The sizzling chemistry (not just the romantic kind!) between the two main characters electrified the dialogue and added tension to every action. I couldn't put it down!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
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Wow. Wow. Wow. 

This was a lot shorter than I thought it would be! It’s a novella duh Genesis!

Fairytales. True love. Second chances. Culture. What more could I ask for? I wanted more of this. So much more. I’m disappointed it ended but so so glad I decided to request this arc. 

Pick this up! It won’t take more than a couple of hours of your life and it’s a great investment of that time.
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This is the novelization of the audible original book by the same name. It's an interesting take on true love, and how you can find it. I enjoyed my time with it! I would love more stories about these sisters.
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Thoroughly enjoyable with the jovial tone, Chokshi again shows us that she not only can poke at the heart of a story but also open it up to let us have a look inside. Sure this is a short novella that pokes fun at familiar fairy tale stories - and you know exactly how it's going to end - but we also get a few poignant lines about control, freedom, power, love, expectation, and what it means to know another person (or yourself).

There are a few fun nods to ridiculousness (talking horse cloak??) and then a little bit about the small impacts of trauma (told through the lens of a fairytale about shoes and dancing). There were also a few funny one-liners. Again, highly enjoyable.
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✨multiple fairytale retellings + interracial couple + second chance romance all wrapped up in a fantasy romance? I am HERE for it!✨

- second chance romance 
- power couple 
- interracial couple 
- fairytale retellings (twelve dancing princess & dark sleeping beauty) 

Swipe for Summary 

I had an absolute blast with this book. Please go pick it up. 

Chokshi uses lyrical, whimsical writing to seamlessly weave a fantasy romance that will leave us all stunned in the best way. 

Chokshi’s writing is so whimsical and vivid, I was thoroughly immersed in the story from start to finish. I will note her writing did steal away from the development and the romance of the book at some points though. 

The romance between Imelda and Ambrose was heartwarming and wonderfully done. You guys know that I am a sucker for a second chance romance. And this book was giving me all that realness. Watching our MCs find each other and fall in love again was heartwarming. 

The side characters are truly what steal your heart. They are whimsical, tongue-and-cheek, fun, sweet, and entertaining. 

I was enthralled and constantly smiling throughout this book.

This is a wonderful fantasy novella to get you out of a funk or make your day brighter. 

I really want to listen to the orginal, audiobook version of this now! 

Definitely pick it up!

⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/ 5 stars | Steam free

Thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca, Roshani Chokshi, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion ❤️
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