Cover Image: Once a Queen

Once a Queen

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Member Reviews

Once a Queen is a fantasy journey through an old English manor, mixing magic with reality in a way familiar to anyone who has read The Chronicles of Narnia - which, indeed, the author acknowledges as a part of her inspiration for blending this world with another, where time runs differently, and those who have been lost in our world remain.

Eva Joyce is an American teenager who, at 14, has never met her only living grandparent, her mother's mother, when her mother takes her to England for a visit. In the course of the visit, a significant portion of family history that Gwendolyn, Eva's mother, has never revealed slowly comes to light, a family history that is also tied to Eva's father, a literary researcher who has spent his career trying to prove that a particular person wrote under a particular pseudonym. The story takes place over the course of a summer, during which Eva meets her grandmother, a great-aunt about whom she never knew, and the people who have worked for her mother's family for decades, with whom her mother grew up. The story of Ternival, a fantasy realm, is told alongside Eva's story, and throughout the novel, the two slowly come together. Recommended for readers of all ages.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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This one moved a bit slow for me. Interesting story though, parallel worlds with magical creatures and items being unearthed. Eva is desperate to learn more about her family and this other world, and she will do everything she can to find information.

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An enchanting young adult fantasy filled with mystery, magic, and self discovery.

14-year old Eva and her mother have returned to England to visit Eva's estranged grandmother. Pulling up to the magnificent manor house, Eva is in awe, but there's more to this house than meets the eye - mystery surrounds the grounds and the people - and Eva is determined to figure out what it is.

When Eva sees the strange events that happen in the gardens when the moon rises, she knows she has to discover what it means.

A magical tale that reminded me of Narnia, with doors to other, fantastical worlds. The gradual information received by both our FMC and ourselves kept me gripped to discover what Eva's family were keeping from her, and the mysterious world where Eva's grandmother was once a queen.

I enjoyed the snippets of the fairytale woven into the start of each chapter - discovering how Eva's grandmother and her friends came to discover this world and crowned.

I do however, wish we could have spent more time in the other world. We get to see a glimpse, but maybe we'll see more in the next book!

Thank you to NetGalley and WaterBrook & Multnomah for this copy. This review is voluntary.

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Thank you to the publisher WaterBrook Multnomah and Netgalley for giving me access to this book as an E-ARC!

I was super excited by the premise of Once a Queen, It's a Story with elements from Princess Diaries, The Chronicles of Narnia and some historical fiction thrown in. I think this story would be perfect for beginners in the Fantasy Genre and lovers of getting thrown into new fantasy worlds.

We are following 14 year old Eva who visits her grandmother for the first time and soon realizes not everything is as it seems and fairy tales may really come true. Hop into Sarah's magical writing and you will for sure be in for an adventure!

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This is a lovely start to a YA cozy fantasy series. I really enjoyed the dual timeline story that was reminiscent of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia. I liked how the author was inspired by the real life event of the British rail crash of October 8th, 1952, and had this event impact the Grandmother and other family members. The author showed the strength of family, and how trauma and grief can have a lasting impact on generations in a family.

Eva Joyce, the main character, travels with her Mother to visit her Grandmother in England whom she has never met. When she arrives she finds out that her Grandmother lives in a giant home, has staff to cook and clean, and a massive garden. Eva’s Grandmother is very aloof which forces Eva to seek out friendship with the staff and the gardener's grandson Frankie. It’s through this friendship with Frankie that Eva discovers that he and his family believe that fairy tales are true, and that a long time ago her Grandmother also believed in fairy tales and was once a queen. A terrible tragedy happened that caused her Grandmother to deny what she knows, and Eva feels the pull to help her Grandmother to believe in fairy tales once again.

I am looking forward to book 2, Once a Castle, and recommend this book for teens who enjoy fantasy and a strong female lead character.

I want to thank NetGalley and WaterBrook & Multnomah for a copy of the eARC of this book. All opinions are my own.

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Step into the magical world that only a select few can see as Eva Joyce spends her summer at a mysterious mansion. Not only is her family, but the whole mansion and the land surrounding it are holding more secrets than meet the eyes.

Soon Eva experiences all of her favorite childhood stories, come to light right before her eyes. Can she unravel the tales and help her grandmother, before its too late? Or has Eva already stepped too far in a world beyond her wildest imagination.

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“Once a Queen” follows Eva, who travels to England for the first time with her mother to meet her grandmother. She feels right at home among the people and place, as well as her fashion-minded grandmother, but the magic of another world starts to creep in. When I first started reading I immediately felt as though it was reminiscent of many childhood favorites: Narnia, The Little White Horse, The Secret Garden. About a page after that occurred to me, two of those titles were named as being the main character’s favorites. While this is perfectly sweet and charming and I’m sure many people will enjoy it, I had two main issues with it. The first is that is walks an extremely fine line between being inspired by classic children’s literature and being outright derivative of it. I’m not sure this story does enough to set itself apart from existing media. My second gripe is that Eva’s inner monologue sounds like a 40-year-old British woman, not a 14-year-old girl from Connecticut.

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Absolutely gorgeous tale that is reminiscent of Narnia with discovered magical lands and lore. It's captivating and easy to read.

We have complex familial relationships and histories, trauma and love. We have interwoven families, conflicts of societal classes and blossoming friendships.

Something that I really like about this book is our main character is so believable as a 14 year old. The way she thinks and reasons throughout is something that I can relate to if I think back to how I was as a 14 year old.

I absolutely adore the multiple generations of characters in this story as well, so we can get the perspectives of different ages.

One thing I will say, subtly to try and give so spoilers, our FMC was robbed and I would feel salty as if I was her 😂 haha

Really looking forward to the next installment


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I had a hard time reading this book. Eva is visiting her grandmother for the first time in England. Her mother packed up and left a long time ago.. They only reason they are back is to locate something for Eva's father's research. Eva has always been fascinated with magic and other worlds, but coming to England has opened her eyes to new adventures beyond her wildest dreams. She is thirsty to explore the worlds that everyone around her seems to whisper about and her grandmother tries to deny their existence during the day, but at night Eva's grandmother transforms. This book has a lot of potential. The main story seems to be about the broken mind of Eva's grandmother and what happened in the past. It felt like there as a lot of words but no true world building. It took me to read 80% of the book before the story really got off the ground and the ending sub par. I would suggest putting more true adventure in the story instead of the constant build up to an anti-climatic end. I am really disappointed. Something was missing and I was not satisfied with this reading.

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I’m not really sure what to make of this. I found it at points a little confusing but also, it seems to serve as more of a prequel to a different story. Not a lot happens. It feels like a lot of build up to something else. Which is fine. But it’s hard to get a full picture of where it’s going to go.

I didn’t dislike it, I don’t think it’s a bad story, I think it just wasn’t a good fit for me.

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I really enjoyed the beginning of this - when I got to the end/acknowledgments I realized it was possibly Christian fiction, which I would never normally pick up. The vibes of the story were great, but the plot got very repetitive in the midde and now that I'm looking at it from a Christian fiction lens the main message feels a bit like it was beat over my head.

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I was super excited to read this book. The description is super interesting and the author looked promising. Unfortunately, however, this book just fell flat. I struggled with following the different timelines, and I thought that the title didn't really relate to the heart of the novel.

However, if you do like fantasy novels that jump timelines, then you might enjoy this story. Thank you Netgalley and publishers for the free e-arc.

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Thank you very much to the publishing company as well as NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

This is an adorable fantasy that is lush with coziness. I love a good cozy fantasy and this YA fantasy did not disappoint. Very sweet and heartwarming. Make sure to read it with a cup of tea by a fireplace.

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i hate to say it, but I found this really boring--I wish the characters had spent any time at all in the magical world. Instead, the book was taken up with repetitive, vague mentions of a Narnia-esque world that others had been kings and queens in. Ternival doesn't enter into the picture until 80% of the way through the book, and even then it is present only long enough for the magical residents to tell Eva that she must return to the real world of England. Truly repetitive, and in my opinion, unenjoyable.

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This was such a delightful YA fantasy!!
The world building was captivating and the characters pretty well developed, and fun to experience the journey with.
The plot was fun as well, and I think this would be really well suited for a younger audiences!

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This book captivates me with its detailed world-building and well-developed characters. Even though the story moves at a slower speed, I guess it's on purpose, giving a chance to really dive into the characters' feelings and the deeper ideas explored. The gradual storytelling creates an engaging vibe, making it a satisfying and thought-provoking read. So far, I enjoyed reading this book.

Thank you NetGalley for the e-ARC copy.

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What if your sad, confused granny once ruled a fantasy world, but had become trapped in the mundane world, with only a little bit of magic to sustain her? Wouldn't you follow her as she wandered around secret gardens in the middle of the night, talking to the sentient topiary? That's exactly what happens here, in a coming-of-age novel that also addresses the end of life, memory, and the complexities of family. While it's a little bit pat, and some story lines are picked up and dropped or go unfulfilled in promise, and the ending doesn't hold up to the rest of the book, it's an interesting thought exercise in speculative writing.

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I was having big issues with the pacing, and everything was so confusing. Also this book felt extremely juvenile and just not for my taste. It feels like this book was written for a very young audience.
I did end up DNFing it sadly.
Disclaimer I did receive an ARC through Netgalley but all opinions are my own.

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I wanted to love this book, but really struggled getting into it, and it almost ended up a DNF. I found the first half especially to be tedious and not particularly exciting and think that if some of the filler were removed the book could be at least 50 pages shorter. A lot of the fantasy elements seemed to be borrowed from other stories with a lot of it seeming to come from the Chronicles of Narnia, which I love, and the resused elements just weren't as well done in my opinion. I did get more engaged in the last 3rd but I was really expecting more time in the other world, and it felt almost like it was added as a throw away at the end rather than a key plot point.
The first person narrative in some way helped as we learn about things as Eva does and so the suspense and curiosity was really what kept me reading, but I found that toward the end the narration changed from present to past tense, but only for a line or two here or there, I know that the author was intending to set up further stories with this technique but to me it just ended up being a little jarring and distracting.
The author also mentions in her interview at the end that weaving was supposed to be a key theme in this book, and although weaving is mentioned often throughout the book I don't think I would have picked it up as a key theme if I hadn't read the q&a.
I'd be interested to read the second book, simply to see if it improves on any of the above mentioned issues.

I received an advanced copy of this book through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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Arc copy received through NetGalley, this review is my honest opinion.

I struggled to get through this book, that being said there were many parts that I did like, I enjoyed the beginning but around the middle I felt like the story started to get flat and it felt like there was a lot of moments that were just there a filler. The characters weren't very developed for the most part, I feel that we really only knew who Eva was and she wasn't very likable because she was just a spiteful teenager.
I also had so many questions, because it was in first person and in Eva's POV we knew as little as she did and it was frustrating to read not knowing what was going on, though it was a smart choice as I was more inclined to keep reading in order to find answers.

I did however very much enjoy the worldbuilding throughout and the descriptions were really well done. I could very easily picture the characters and places in my head. I also enjoyed the incorporation the fairytale from Eva's childhood, it gave the story a further sense of mystery of trying to determine what's real and what's fairytale.

I would definitely say that it's suitable for a younger audience, it would be a good introductory book into YA as a genre.

Overall, not a bad book - 3.5 stars

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