So, I usually wouldn’t review two books by the same author in the same series so close together, but I can’t help myself. It’s been a while since I read a book and just had to read the next, and the next right away. But that’s how I felt about the HALF UPON A TIME series. I read all three books within two weeks. It helps that I didn’t start the series until the third book came out :).
This review is actually going to be more of a series recommendation, but here’s the description for ONCE UPON THE END. It’s a bit spoilery for the first two books, so you might want to skip over it. I’m going to keep my actual points spoiler-free.
After the events of TWICE UPON A TIME, May’s trapped in a house with an evil stepmother, unable to leave without the Wicked Queen finding her. Phillip’s doomed to a boring life as a prince, his adventures over. And Jack … actually, Jack’s doing pretty well. He’s just on the wrong side, having joined the Wicked Queen’s elite group of spies, the Eyes.
How can this possibly end happily? Particularly when, between Jack and Phillip, one is destined to betray May and the other is destined to die?
Here are the five things I loved most about the series as a whole.
1. Everything ties together – There are loose ends in the first book I’d completely forgotten about until they got tied up in the third book. I can only assume James Riley planned this as a trilogy from the beginning, because I don’t know how it would all work so well together otherwise.
2. The fairy tales – I can’t believe how many fairy tale characters he inserted into these books, making them completely familiar and yet giving them a spin that makes you think the storytellers are the ones who were wrong before. Among the characters who make an appearance: Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Prince Charming, Snow White, the Wicked Queen (of course), Malevolent (or Maleficent), the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood, the Little Mermaid, Peter Pan … I could go on a lot longer.
3. The voices – I loved the way James Riley added a new character’s voice in each book. We started out with Jack in the first book, added May in the second, and then Phillip in the final one. Jack remained the character I identified most closely with, but I was ready to hear from these other characters, too.
4. The pacing – I couldn’t stop reading any of these books. The last one I read in less than a day. The format of switching POVs actually encouraged that because I’d get left hanging with one character, follow another, be anxious to get back to the first, then the second, then the third. You get the picture. It was a great way to keep me from putting the book down.
5. The ending – Ok, so this one’s about the final book, but I loved the way James Riley wrapped everything up for the characters and left a hint of more adventures to come. While I would gladly follow these characters around for another book, I’m completely satisfied with the way the series ended.
I will definitely be pulling this series back out again when my kids are a few years older. My 5-year-old loved the cover and wanted me to tell him all about it. He’ll get to experience it on his own one day.
What series have you read that you just had to finish right away? I’m always looking for suggestions!