Source: Received from Publicist for Review
“Life’s no fairy tale for Jack. After all, his father's been missing ever since that incident with the beanstalk and the giant, and his grandfather keeps pushing him to get out and find a princess to rescue. Who'd want to rescue a snobby, entitled princess anyway? Especially one that falls out of the sky wearing a shirt that says "Punk Princess," and still denies she's royalty. In fact, May doesn't even believe in magic. Yeah, what's that about? May does need help though--a huntsman is chasing her, her grandmother has been kidnapped, and Jack thinks it’s all because of the Wicked Queen... mostly because May’s grandmother might just be the long-lost Snow White. Jack and May's thrillingly hilarious adventure combines all the classic stories—fractured as a broken magic mirror—into one epic novel for the ages.”
Oh how much fun this was to read – even for an adult! Many of the great fairy tales that we know and love come to life in a slightly fractured way from what we previously knew. This is not a retelling of any of those tales – those things either happened in the past or are rumors – but take these characters above and beyond and to a new life. Their actions certainly feel true to their original incarnations.
This would be a great read for both boys and girls and is entirely appropriate for the age range being pitched to. There is action and adventure, great storytelling, characters that are at once recognizable and relatable, and a plot that just keeps moving right along. There also is what I like to call the “un-hero”. It is established early on, and even in the book blurb, that he does not have what it takes to rescue a princess and be a hero. He even fails his hero test. But this sets him up to push himself, overcome many great obstacles, and ultimately become an admirable character. This book reads very fast and you won’t want to put it down from page one.
The only negative that I had with this book, and it is a small one, is that the ending was very abrupt. Now, I know that there is a sequel coming out, and it wasn’t really a cliff hanger, I just would have liked the main story to have ended with more than “Bet you didn’t see that coming!”. It leads into the next book well, but I would have liked a little more of a wrap up to the epic adventure they were on through the entire first book.
Immediately when I began reading this novel the writing style brought to mind that of another favorite YA author of mine – Libba Bray (if you have not read Going Bovine or Beauty Queens you are missing out!) The writing is comedic and witty and there are fun/crazy adventures. If you love reading Bray, you will love Riley – and vice versa.
James Riley also has written the sequel Twice Upon a Time and is working on the third and final book Once Upon The End. You can visit his website or blog for additional information about the books. An excerpt of Chapter 1 is available on the Half Upon a Time page on Amazon.
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