Member Reviews

In this fascinating YA fantasy novel, readers follow Eva Joyce, who is visiting her grandmother Bess in England for the first time in her life. Life at the family manor is strange, however, with odd gardens, an eerily similar statue, a mysterious great-aunt, and a strained relationship between her grandmother and mother, and as Eva discovers her grandmother’s secrets and the secrets of the estate, she is drawn into a world of magic and hidden worlds. With an inspiration in a real 1952 train accident, Arthur’s novel is an incredible introduction to a beautiful and mysterious new world right at Eva -- and her grandmother’s -- front door. Eva is a curious and clever heroine, who may ask too many questions but has her heart in the right place, while the other women of her family (Bess, Gwendolyn, and a host of unknown relatives) are complex and critical to the story. The minor characters, particularly the staff, townspeople, and a few other friends of Eva’s grandmother are also well-written and critical to Eva’s search for the truths of her family manor. The manor home is a character unto itself, acting as a gateway between multiple worlds, and readers will find that this book too is a gateway into Eva’s life and adventures in England.

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3.75 * Solid young adult fantasy which reminds me of The Chronicles of Narnia. Nicely written story about teen Eva who's coming to England to let her Grandmother and during her stay finding out about hidden tragic family story. I do like Eva and Frankie and Mrs Fealston, and I'm pretty sure that without Frankie and Mrs F. this story would miss a lot, was sort of not complete.

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Ich weiß ehrlich gesagt nicht, wie ich dieses Buch bewerten soll, da ich es aufgrund relativ kurzer Ausleihdauer (ohne Verlängerung) nicht lesen konnte.

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I loved the idea of this book, but the execution was a bit unpolished, and the pacing had issues. I look forward to seeing improvements in the sequel. Recommended for fans of Narnia, The Hidden Country, or Tuck Everlasting.

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I really enjoyed this book, I got some Narnia vibes at the start but it quickly became its own story and was very unique. I enjoyed the characters and the plot twists and mystery it had to offer.

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"Once a Queen" by Sarah Arthur is a magical journey that many middle-grade readers will find enchanting. One of the book's strengths is its imaginative setting. Arthur creates a vivid and captivating world that draws readers in, making them feel as though they are right there with Eva.

Eva is a relatable and courageous protagonist. Her journey from an ordinary girl to someone with a significant role in this new world is both exciting and inspiring. Her bravery and quick thinking are qualities that many readers will admire. Additionally, the friendships she forms and the allies she meets add warmth and depth to the narrative.

The plot moves at a good pace, with plenty of action and suspense to keep readers engaged. The challenges and quests that Eva faces are well-crafted and keep the story interesting. The themes of bravery, friendship, and discovering one's potential are woven throughout the story, making it a meaningful read.

However, there are a few areas where the book could improve. Some parts of the story feel a bit predictable, and a few characters could have been developed further to add more depth to their personalities and motivations. Overall, "Once a Queen" is a delightful read that offers a good mix of magic, adventure, and heart. It's a solid three-star book that provides an enjoyable escape into a fantastical world.

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I was granted Early Access to this title by netgate. all opinions written here are my own .
A review of once a queen by Sarah Arthur

this book reminds me a lot of other classic fairy tales like The Lion, the witch wardrobe series or the never-ending story or many other classic tales where there is a portal to another world where kids get to step through, but not necessarily adults unless they have the right heart. I very much enjoyed this take on the whole thing and I hope that this book becomes a series and that we get to see what happens to the rest of the characters.. thank you Sarah Arthur for writing this delightful tale. I look forward to reading more of your work in future if I should have such a privilege.

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Thanks to NetGalley and publisher for giving me this ARC in exchange of an honest review.

It took me some time to finish it because I'm quite busy and didn't have much time to read. However, I manage to finish it and it's good! This book is well-written. I like it.

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This book could have been avoided if the was even a tiny bit of healthy communication between family members. You have a 14 yr old who just wants to to find answers and defies wishes of people that don't want to talk about pain and keep everything secret. This is not how to deal with grief, rejection, and hurt. I was more irritated than interested.

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Eva travels with her mother to England to visit her grandmother who she has never met. Her grandmother lives on a beautiful estate which is where Eva’s mother, Gwendolyn, grew up. When they arrive Eva hears the staff discussing magical stories that sound like a fantasy series she grew up reading. She starts to realize that the stories are connected to the estate and she is determined to uncover the secrets of her family and this magical world that have been kept from her.
This story gave me major Narnia and Secret Garden vibes (which after I read the ‘about the author’ made a lot of sense). I liked how in between each chapter there was an excerpt from the fantasy series that lead you into what information you were going to learn in the next chapter. Sometimes the excerpts could be a bit confusing since you were just getting snippets of that story and the names and details could get muddled and a bit hard to follow. Overall, I loved the idea of growing up with a fantasy series that you love and uncovering, not only that it is real, but that you have a personal connection to it. Isn’t that every young child’s dream when they read fantasy?! The story came to a satisfying end, but you could tell that it was left open for a sequel and I would definitely read the sequel to find out what happens next.

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I loved the idea of this book. However due to an awful book slump i wasn't able to finish it in time. I do however now own a physical copy of the book. I have yet to have the time to pick it up and read it however. Based on the little I did read I will give it a solid 3 stars.

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It took me a long time to read this title. It was very long (the printed book is almost 400 pages) and did not hold my interest. It is clean, no sex no language, but I am not sure that my students would like it.
I will not be purchasing this one for my library.

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When Eva Joyce travels to England with her mom, she’s excited to meet the grandmother she’s never once heard from. The only problem is that her grandma is sweet with a scary side, and Eva’s been instructed to contain her curiosity while visiting. Magic and fairy tales are not accepted by her grandmother, and the more Eva explores the property, the more she discovers there’s a huge mystery rooted in the fairy tales that are very much a reality.

I thought this seemed like a fun book, so I was excited to check it out! We follow Eva, an extremely curious teenager who is fascinated with all things fantasy and mysterious. She’s grown up moving from one place to another all based on where her father has found work, and while her parents don’t mind her curious nature much, it’s not welcome at her grandmother’s home. For some reason, she’s not allowed to bring up her dad, magic, fairy tales, and strangely enough, trains. It turns out it’s all connected to a terrible tragedy where two family members and a family friend lost their lives, which turned her grandmother into the woman she is in the present.

I think this book was enjoyable at times, but it’s a book that would be more enjoyable for its target audience than it is for adults. It has everything from mystery, magic, and a tragedy that destroyed a family. It was fun seeing Eva discover that the fairy tales she grew up with were very much a reality, and that her dad’s lifetime work is connected to her family in ways she never could’ve imagined. However, the mystery was frustrating. It was clear from the start, but the way the characters danced around it and kept telling Eva it wasn’t their story was just really irritating. I think I would’ve found it more mysterious and fun if I was reading this back when I was in middle school, so it’s definitely great for its target audience.

The characters were both complex and interesting even if Eva seemed to think she knew more than she did. I think Eva was just a lonely kid excited to find out that her favorite fairy tales were real. I also understand how much she hoped to get her grandmother’s approval, especially since she never really knew any family outside of her parents. It was nice to see her make a friend and even keep that friendship going after the huge fight they have, especially since it didn’t seem like she really had friends back at home.

While the book was a fun read, it was also frustrating at times, and I think younger readers will likely get drawn into the story much more than I did and not notice when things seem to stall. I do think it’s interesting enough that I may check out the second book when it eventually comes out. Now that the tedious nature of the mystery is out of the way, it’ll be interesting to see how the story progresses.

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I liked the idea of an American teenager finding out that her estranged English grandmother was once a queen, but after reading some of it, but the ‘strange things’ felt too strange. And I couldn’t understand what the scriptures of nearly every chapter had to do with the story. It was very confusing, and I put it down and never picked it back up after the second chapter.

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Not sure if I can read about a fourteen year old main character. I can hardly stomach more well known young adult fantasies nowadays. I bet this was wonderful though!

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It took me FOREVER to read this book, I just kept putting it down and then sighing whenever I tried to read it again. I didn't want to finish it, but I hate not finishing books.

I get what the huge quotes at the start and end of the chapters were trying to do....but for me I HATED them, they were long and exhausting and didn't intrigue me like they were meant to.

It felt like this book was trying to do so many things at once that it never perfected any of its directions. In summary, it's similar to the story of Narnia....just not fun to read. Towards the end, I started to get into it a bit, but then it jumped around heaps, which made me feel like I had skipped chapters. It felt like things were missing.

Honestly, my favourite part of the book was reading about what inspired the author to write this book. I just don't think the author achieved what they were trying to with this book. I was bored by it.

As I said, the story gives off Narnia vibes, a magical world hidden behind a door. Which is meant to be mysterious and intriguing, but it just comes off as bland. This hidden world is teased the entire book, and nearly no time was spent there. If this was down to create the background work for the next book, it was not done well enough to engage me to even bother with the next book.

I also hated the language choice. It wasn't consistent, and this made it quite jarring. Also, for its target audience, that kind of language is probably going to bore them.

The characters are all very different and had some cool elements about them. I liked the exploring of broken family relationships. But unfortunately, it fell flat again, and I can't say I engaged with any of the characters.

I would recommend this for young teens and up. If you like books with magical worlds and really slow paced "adventure," maybe you'll enjoy it.

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I received an advanced copy of Once a Queen from Netgalley and the publisher and am leaving this review voluntarily.

I will begin this review by saying that I could not finish Once a Queen. Despite my efforts to continue, I couldn't get into the story or the characters enough to want to keep reading. Typically, when I don't finish a book, I will automatically give it one star. However, I don't think that Once a Queen deserves one star.

I went into this book believing the main character was a couple of years older than fourteen. For some reason, when I read the description, my brain didn't process that she was that young, and I didn't realize until I was reading that this was a middle-grade book. While some middle-grade (and young adult) books are made with any readers in mind, this was not that book. It was clearly written for a younger audience, and I believe that is part of the reason I could not finish. Since this is no fault of the book, it's getting the extra star.

Despite that setback, I was still excited to read this story. Portal fantasies have a special place in my heart (The Chronicles of Narnia are still some of my favorite books). However, I was not intrigued by the story. At the end of each chapter were tiny snippets of history for the other world, and I found those two or three paragraphs to be almost more interesting than the entire chapter I had just finished. The story's pacing felt very slow, and it honestly felt like nothing was happening. It wasn't pulling me in the way I wanted it to.

On top of that, the characters were frustrating. I can understand not wanting to tell the newcomer what was happening, but everyone was so close-lipped and closed-off that I didn't find them interesting. I didn't care what happened to them because we had next to no knowledge of anything going on. And I can understand that for a couple of chapters, but I was over 100 pages in and still had no information. There's only so long that I, as the reader, can deal with not knowing, and Once a Queen took me past that point.

I don't think Once a Queen was a bad book, but all of my issues left me feeling that it wasn't the book for me.

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Another reinterpretation of the Narnia books, beautifully written but weak in pacing and world building.

I loved the feel of this book, largely due to the lovely writing and to the well-used but also always lovable general premise behind it.

It’s tempting to recommend this for younger readers because it’s engaging and has no inappropriate content, but the pacing is pretty slow, and the magic isn’t especially well-rendered. I think it’s more likely that this book will hold the attention of an adult reader than a teen or young reader, though I can’t imagine a content issue for any age group.

The trouble with trying to reimagine a Narnia-like plot is that if the world building isn’t top notch and immersive, the fantasy elements of the book are bound to disappoint. This one takes too long to get through the portal, and once we’re there it’s unimpressive. The quest (if you want to call it that) also feels fairly low stakes, and lacks the excitement needed to make up for the very thin sense of place.

Interestingly, the setting for the real world parts of the book is fine—no, better than fine, actually—which is both odd for a fantasy book and also partially feels like it saves the novel from an atmospheric perspective while at the same time making the flaws in the fantasy realm all the more frustrating and apparent.

Still, it’s a sweet, cozy read with no real fatal flaws. A bit disappointing if you need your magic to sparkle and enthrall, but far from the worst portal magic fantasy you’ll encounter.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC to review.

This book’s premise grabbed me from the get-go and I really loved the idea and overall concept.

I really think this could be a fun book for some who are first starting out with fairy tale fantasy retellings, but in the end I felt like there were quite a few things that were just not making sense or not coming full circle like I’d hoped. I would definitely still be interested in reading the sequel to see where the author is going with this world.

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I would wrap this one up as good, not great. It had the bones to be great, but fell a little short in my opinion.

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