Once More Upon A Time

Author: Roshani Chokshi

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

First Published: 05 October 2021

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

“Much more than a year and a day has passed, but that does not stop them from remembering how to fall in love. Sometimes it takes coaxing and listening. Sometimes it takes laughter and tears. But the thread is there if you wish to lift it up to the light and follow it down whatever corridors of time it crosses through.”

I will start by saying that I was given an ARC will start by saying that I was given an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own. Thank you so much to the teams over at Sourcebooks Casablanca and NetGalley for sending a copy my way.

Once upon a dream, there was a prince named Ambrose

and a princess named Imelda who loved each other…

But alas, no more.

“What a witch takes, a witch does not give back!”

their friends and family warn.

They resign themselves to this loveless fate…

A year and a day pass.

And then their story truly begins…

Embark on a perilous journey with Imelda and Ambrose as they brave magical landscapes and enchanted creatures on their quest to reclaim their heart’s desire…But first they must remember what that is
I’ll put my heart and soul into dressing his holiday windows.
I’ll work without stopping. And when we lose the battle with temptation, I’ll try and remember I’m just window shopping.

This is one of the most enchanting and charming books I have ever read. I stopped and read so many sections aloud. This little novella strikes the perfect balance between modern-day snark and classic fairy tale whimsy. Once Upon a Time is a wonderful celebration of all things fairy tales.

Once Upon a Time is about the cursed love between an overlooked prince who keeps losing everything he has and a trapped princess who is desperate to carve her own path, not one directed by a man. Imelda is one of the other dancing princesses who do not get their own happily ever after. At her sister wedding, Imelda finds her true love, Ambrose. Ambrose is a prince who loses his quest for the crown, beaten by his eldest brother’s wit and his younger brother’s charm. The pair are given Love’s Keep as a wedding gift. A kingdom that only thrives if the royal couple is in love. The pair jump at the chance: what could go wrong? When Imelda is dying from poison, Ambrose will give anything to save his love’s life. He strikes up a deal with a witch. The witch will save Imelda, and all she asks in return is the pair give up their love for one another. 

Roshani Chokshi’s writing is lyrical and lush like always. I adore that this story is told in a familiar fairy tale tradition. We have an omniscient narrator who knows everything that had been and everything that will be. Sprinkled throughout Chokshi’s beautiful prose is the narrator’s sassy and, at times, cynical commentary. These comments on the traditional fairy tale tropes had me laughing at loud. 

There is a surprisingly insightful and emotional exploration of what it means to fall in love. We investigate those anxious, meddling thoughts that bubble underneath those warm fuzzy feelings of being in a new relationship. Chokshi explores the fear of what it means to take a chance and put yourself out there even if there is a chance of getting hurt. And through Imelda, we explore whether choosing to be in a relationship means you need to stop chasing your dreams.

Imelda and Ambrose are engaging and enjoyable to read. We get a surprising amount of depth to pair to these characters considering this novella is under 200 pages. I loved that we had a grumpy hero and a sunshiny heroine. As we all know, this is one of my all-time favourite character tropes.

I completely adored this story. This will be one I pick up if I need a magical pick me up to get me through the day. If you love Ella Enchanted or The Princess Bride, then this is the story for you! I would love to see Roshani Chokshi write more stories in this style. 

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