Cover Image: Once a Queen

Once a Queen

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Member Reviews

This book seems very similar to The LIon The Witch and The Wardrobe. I found the start rather slow and did not draw me in enough besides the little quotes between the chapters. But this book definitely promises an adventure.

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This book is an enjoyable read with an interesting storyline and characters, the title drew me to this book initially

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I rated this book 3 - 3.5 stars because I enjoyed it and at times couldn't put it down. This story and the magical world were reminiscent of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Secret Garden, A Wrinkle in Time, and at times, Alice in Wonderland. I think that's the part I enjoyed the most. The magical creatures and the portal into another world(s) were all captivating and were some of my favorite parts of the story.

That being said, I do feel that there were elements that took away from the storyline - the use of old English, the passages at the ends of chapters that told the story from Mesterra - and seemed to leave out information, or jump around within the backstory and caused confusion more than it helped the story move along. I feel that there were things left out, or glossed over, in the storyline and I still have questions that were not answered with the conclusion of the book.

If there are plans for a continuation of the storyline or a prequel, I would be interested in reading those as I was quite taken with the "other world" aspect of this book. If you enjoyed any of the books I mentioned above, you might enjoy this one.

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Thank you Netgalley and WaterBrook for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

"Once a Queen" by Sarah Arthur is an engaging fantasy reminiscent of Narnia as well as “Bridge to Terabithia.” I think a MG or younger YA audience would be absolutely sucked into this story and the world Arthur creates.

I found the book to have an enchanting nature and tone, which fit perfectly with the story and the world that Arthur was creating. There was a focus on family secrets, mysterious manor houses, and portals to other worlds. That’s why I kept thinking of Narnia when I was reading this book, so those who enjoyed Narnia may experience some nostalgia when reading “Once a Queen.” The story follows fourteen-year-old Eva Joyce on a summer adventure, uncovering family history and the magical elements hidden within the manor.

I think the strongest aspect of this book lies in its exploration of themes such as family relationships, grief, and the transition from childhood to adolescence. The character development was well-done, and I thought that Eva felt realistic, though a bit younger than her established age. The side characters The characters like the housekeeper, gardener, and Frankie, added depth and warmth to the story. The blending of real-world settings with fantasy elements was done well and created a vivid and immersive world, though I wish I got to experience more of this world in the beginning of the novel. Arthur also explored the topic of generational trauma and grief in the story, which added emotional depth, and I think is a topic many readers could relate to based on their own familial experiences.

The book, however, was a bit challenging to engage with, specifically with the pacing. The first half of the book was a bit slow, and, as stated earlier, I wanted to experience more of the fantasy world that Arthur created. Eva's reactions and attitude also seemed more fitting for a younger age group, occasionally making decisions that were a bit frustrating, which would make more sense if she were a bit younger.

Overall, "Once a Queen" offers a blend of enchantment with the fantasy world and the character development shown throughout the book. I would definitely recommend this book to be kept in middle grade libraries or in 9th-10th grade English classrooms.

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I received a copy of this book for a fair and honest review. I know that this is the first book in a series and this is where we get introduced to the world the rest of the series will be taking place in. I found myself going back and reading some passages to make sure I understood what was going on. Eva is visiting her grandmother at the family manor. This is a journey to learn about magic, secret and about family. There are parts of the book I found enjoyable, but kind of a hard book to get through. I felt there needed to be more going to keep me personally engaged in the story. It could just be the foundation for the rest of the series. I will just have to wait and see.

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This one starts out very slow and confusing. I stopped at chapter 14, 24% and did not finish. I had no idea what the story of Ternivia was and why those "chapters" were separate. The story lacked character building. I didn't care about Eva or her Grandmother and there was not enough suspense to keep me reading. I stopped reading because I was bored and uninvested.

Thank you to the publisher for this eArc.

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Eva Joyce is finally getting to meet her grandmother, who lives at a grand manor house in England. At 14, she’s never talked to her or even received any letters, and she knows little about the woman. But she will be spending the summer with her while her college-professor father tries to secure a permanent job at a university in Chicago.

Eva has grown up loving the fantasy stories set in the magical realm of Ternival, and she learns fairly soon after arriving at Carrick Hall that the stories have a connection to the estate. And, most surprisingly, a number of the locals who work at the manor believe the stories are true. Portals to other worlds exist, and her grandmother was once a queen in Ternival.

Now, however, her grandmother doesn’t even want to hear people talk about Ternival, and she keeps mostly to herself in the grand house. After a tragedy in her young adulthood, she has been grieving, her heart shut off from wonder and joy.

With Eva’s arrival, however, the older woman is faced with some painful memories and is clearly struggling with her past. Eva hopes she can learn the truth about what she’s heard and even find a portal to the magic world she loved when she was a child. As a teenager, she would love to enter Ternival, but she knows she’s of an age that it’s just about time to leave fairy tales behind.

But if nothing else, she wants to learn the secrets her family has kept and to bring healing to her grandmother. Just how vital it is to enter Ternival to do so is unclear.

Once a Queen has many wonderful elements that should make it a favorite, but a number of pieces were missing for me. For one, every chapter set in the “real world” alternates with a page or two of story from the fairy tale world written in the book. But each section from the fairy tale is fairly short, and it’s hard to know if the entirety of the Ternival book is presented in those snippets or if they are excerpts giving pertinent highlights. Either way, I didn’t get too caught up in that fairy tale story, which took away some of the power of what it meant in the lives of the “real world” people.

It’s also very clear the fairy tale world takes very heavily from famous, beloved works like Narnia. The author writes at the end that she grew up reading The Secret Garden, A Wrinkle in Time, Narnia, and others, and her love for those make-believe realms is evident. It just seems that this realm takes far too much from existing books, particularly Narnia. It just doesn’t feel original enough.

I also had a number of questions about how certain things worked that seemed like big issues (for me, at least). There are some holes that left me a bit confused.

Overall, however, the story is poignant and a clear homage to classics that are dear to many readers’ hearts for a reason. Its focus on the main character and her grandmother is still the most important part and a sweet one.

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Once a Queen is an enchanting easy to read YA fantasy book. The main character, 14 yr old Eva, has never visited her Grandmother's estate in England. Eva and her mom visit there, and Eva find things that aren't as they may seem on the surface. Eva meets Frankie, the caretaker's grandson. The friendship that strikes up between the two of them was so much fun to watch grow. As time goes on, Eva has to try to decide if she's too old to believe in 'magic' or if all of these secrets she's discovering in her family history is truly magical. I think if you enjoyed the Chronicles of Narnia series, you would enjoy this book. For an adult it's a fast easy read. I'd happily let my Middle Grade child read this.

Thank you to NetGalley, Sarah Arthur and WaterBrook Publishing for allowing me this e-version arc to read and review.

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“The Mystery of the Manor” is a well-crafted debut novel with an engaging story and approachable narrative.

Eva Joyce, a 14-year-old American girl, finds herself in an unexpected summer adventure at her English grandmother’s mysterious manor. The book skillfully mixes fantasy and mystery, appealing to readers with its fairy tale-like quality.

One notable aspect of the story is its subtle religious allegory, adding a layer of complex themes.

As Eva uncovers her family's secretive past and navigates strange occurrences at the manor, the narrative introduces hidden portals to other worlds, guarded by the manor’s staff, adding intrigue and wonder.

Eva learns about her grandmother’s past as a queen in one of these mystical realms, now a closed chapter in her life. The book excels in blending the ordinary with fairy tale magic, diving into themes like self-discovery, and the power of family legacies.

'The Mystery of the Manor' is a well crafted novel, ideal for middle school readers who enjoy mysteries with a supernatural twist,

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This was very clearly a religious allegory, which I think is kind of annoying because there is no indication of that in the marketing.
My real problem with this is that it is just SO young. It reads almost like middle grade honestly, and that is not at all like what the description led me to believe. I know it has a 14 year old protagonist, but the whole thing felt more like it should have an 11 year old protagonist.
I think this was interesting and well written, it just wasn't for me. This book definitely has an audience, particularly for younger readers and readers who are looking for a bit more religious takes on fantasy.
It wasn't bad, just really wasn't for me.

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"Once a Queen" by Sarah Arthur is a captivating YA fantasy novel. Eva, a fourteen-year-old girl, embarks on her first journey to meet her estranged grandmother, who has never been discussed by her mother. The manor house and its gardens are full of secrets, and Eva has grown up listening to fairy tales about another world, which she learns may be real.

My initial reaction was that this story reminded me of other classic children's novels such as "The Secret Garden". I enjoyed Eva's character and watching her develop relationships with Frankie and her grandmother. However, the thing that really impacted me was how the novel dealt with generational trauma and grief. I felt sad for the grandmother, who was allowing her grief over her sister's death to take over her life.

It took me a moment to understand the fantasy world in the book. I read through it a second time and discussed it at length with my best friend. The fairytale, which is separate from the main novel, is also a fascinating story in its own right.

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I was instantly in love and so drawn into this story. Imagine any of the main characters from The Chronicles of Narnia are now old and their grandchild is discovering that the fairytales they grew up loving were not only true but about their grandmother. I can see these characters becoming just as beloved. I cannot wait for the next books!!!

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I received this arc from Netgalley and Waterbrook & Multnomah in exchange for a fair and honest review.

How to describe this gem? Take a handful of Narnia, a twist of The Secret Garden, a dash of Madelene L’engle and you have this unputdownable YA fantasy. This has me yearning to explore all wardrobes and tapestries to double check they aren’t a secret portal to another world.

Right now this book is due for publication in January 2024 so marked your calendars because this would be a perfect read on a cozy winter day. Heads up this is the first in a series. And I seriously hope I can get access to book 2 asap.

UPDATE: added review to Barnes and Noble under username KatieSam on 1/30/24

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This book first and foremost is a fantasy and inspired by fairy tale. For some that can be appealing, and it was for me to some extent too.
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Personally I skipped over the passages at the end of each chapter. Maybe I'd have got more out of the story if I'd read them too, but I enjoyed it well enough without reading them.
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Eva and Frankie were really engaging characters and watching their relationship unfold was very entertaining.
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Overall, this story was very fun, and a good time. Not necessarily my cup of tea, and not one I'd likely read again, but it was fun while I was in it.

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Thank you to Waterbrook and Sarah Arthur for the opportunity to arc review Once a Queen.

A modern take on the old fantasy stories of my childhood – it stirred many happy memories of reading the greats like S Lewis during the summer holiday. Nice to see the world re-embracing this style of writing. Sarah Arthur has a very descriptive writing style that paints a very detail oriented picture into the reader's imagination of against where the adventure of the story is taking place and bring the visual embodiment of the characters to life.

The pacing of the book was a little strange for me – the books is telling a lot of different peoples’ stories with inclusion of passages from the book , characters relying their own stories to Eva and the Eva’s own adventure uncovering the mysteries of her family’s history. I felt like most of the first 75% of the book didn’t amount to much, a lot of setting up and telling the reader what’s what before finally getting to the adventure about 80%.

I’m not religious at all, but I get the tradition and the metaphors behind the imagery contained within the story. The Chronicles of Narnia were one of my favourite books as a child, but they didn’t convert me to Christianity. I think you can enjoy this book for its mystical elements, emotions and the tragic relationships between the characters without getting lost in the religious aspects.

Overall, a nice throw-back to a different time of writing and storytelling with a strange and whimsical fantasy world with nice correlations to the Chronicles of Narnia. 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3.

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Once a Queen-a standalone

by Sara Arthur-debut YA

Rating: 4/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Publication 1/30/24 Read 1/30/24

Format: eBook, 376 pgs.

Thanks to NetGalley and WaterBrook &Multnomah for this ARC💚! I voluntarily give an honest review and all opinions expressed are my own.

✔️ YA
✔️ Sci Fi/Fantasy
✔️ Magic
✔️ Family secrets
✔️Fairytale inspirations: The Chronicles of Narnia and The Secret Garden

Summary- Eva Joyce is a fourteen-year-old American girl who unexpectedly leaves her Connecticut home to spend the summer at her grandmother's (Mrs. Torstane) English manor house-Carrick Hall. Eva has a lot of questions and spends her time investigating her reclusive grandmother's life, and the strange happenings within the manor's gardens. Eva befriends the elderly housekeeper Mrs. Fealston, the gardener Stokes , and the gardener's grandson, Frankie Addison. They help guide her quest to uncover the truth about her family and the worlds that once existed.


The plot is Eva's exploration of family relationships, grief, and the transition from childhood to adolescence. Eva grapples with growing up and leaving behind fairy tales and the magic of her childhood.


Overall, Once a Queen is a compelling young adult fantasy novel that exposes other worlds of mystery and enchantment. Eva discovers family secrets and embraces a coming-of-age journey built around her grandmother's trauma and grief.

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A mystery-fantasy. The writing was unique and I enjoyed the way it was told. It reminded me of the Chronicles of Narnia.

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At 14, Eva Joyce has not yet let go of her belief in lands beyond a wardrobe door, when a trip to meet her grandmother in England brings about the unexpected and she begins to believe her favorite book of fairy tales might be true. Once a Queen by Sarah Arthur is a luminous work of Young Adult fiction and a sublime portal fantasy featuring a story within a story.

Enjoyable for teens or adults, Once a Queen is a not to be missed YA debut. A sneak peek of book 2, Once a Castle, is included.

This review refers to a digital ARC that I voluntarily read via NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher. A positive review was not required and all opinions expressed are my own.

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Once A Queen by Sarah Arthur is a young adult fantasy that begins with a mysterious grandma, a large mansion, and a ton of secrets. It talks about magical creatures and fading portals to other worlds, perfect for fans of Narnia.

The book has a fun start, but it feels like it's just the beginning of a much bigger story. It's like the warm-up before the main event. If you like Narnia-style stories, this one might be up your alley.

The author introduces a mysterious manor, family secrets, and magical elements. While it might lack some details, it promises to explore the fantasy world more in future books.

Once A Queen is a solid start to Sarah Arthur's YA fantasy series. If you enjoy magical mysteries and are looking for a bigger adventure in the future, give it a try.

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This was an enchanting story about a girl finding out wondrous secrets about her family and discovering that you can't write other peoples stories for them. Always engaging, it shows a valuable lesson for life while creating lovable characters and a truly magical world.

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