Sunday, November 29, 2015

Book Review: Half Upon a Time Trilogy by James Riley

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fast paced, fun, and funny adventures
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Hang on for this fun
Alternate fairy tale world
‘Twill please all readers

Once Upon a Time, There Was a Great Fairy Tale Trilogy

Hang around this blog long enough, and you’ll discover my love of all things fairy tale and alternative fairy tale.  (Disney and Once Upon a Time just to name two very obvious examples.)  That’s what initially got me interested in the Half Upon a Time Trilogy written by James Riley.  But what kept me coming back was the wonderful story.

The story begins with Jack, who is living in the village of Giant’s Hand.  While all his friends are trying to find quests they can go on to prove their worth, Jack is content to stay home and help on the family farm, hoping to live down the legacy of his father, Jack of Beanstalk fame.

Into his world one day comes May, who appears in a flash in the sky.  She is from an alternative world without magic, and she has no idea how she got to Jack’s world.  She is searching for her grandmother, who has been kidnapped.  Reluctantly, Jack finds himself pulled into her quest.  Can they find her grandmother?  Who is May’s grandmother?  What will happen to them along the way?

Of course, that’s really just the set up to the first book.  It isn’t long before other fairy tale characters start popping up and May and Jack realize that there is a conspiracy at play that they might be able to defeat, if they don’t play into the hands of the villain.  Over the course of the three books, we meets giants, pirates, mermaids, and Prince Phillip joins the group to make a trio of heroes trying to save the kingdom.

Needless to say, the action is fast and the pace never lets up.  I breezed through all three books in the series, and I’m sure that kids will do the same.  After all, it’s very hard to put a book down when there is so much action and so many twists.

Plus, you’ve just got to love the characters.  May, Jack, and Phillip really do make a great team, and they are just fun characters.  I loved spending time with them and truly worried if they’d be able to save the day in the end or not.  Especially with a certain prophecy that is made….

Then there’s the sarcasm.  Jack and May, especially, are very sarcastic characters.  Since I tend to be a tad sarcastic, especially in real life, I laughed many times at things that were said.  It added a lot of fun to the epic story unfolding.

This set contains all three books in the trilogy in paperback, and therefore contains the complete story.  I read the books as they were published, and I found the wait between books to be so long.  The ability to have all three books ready to go so you don’t have to wait to continue the story would be wonderful.

While most people think of fairy tales as aimed at girls, this series contains plenty of action and adventures to keep boys turning pages, too.  Not to mention that two of the main characters are boys.  On the other hand, May is not some damsel in distress but an active part is the story as it unfolds, which will appeal to girls.

So if you’ve missed these entertaining books, this slipcase set is the perfect way to read the Half Upon a Time Trilogy.  The magic and adventure will keep you turning pages through all three great books.

This is my entry for this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.


  1. Yes, I have managed to never read any of these books. Now that they are in a boxed set I'll put them on my holiday shopping list. Thanks for the heads-up.

  2. Sounds good! I haven't read these either. But I love the idea that they will appeal to boys!

    1. It really a fun series that should appeal to anyone.

  3. I have never heard of this series. It sounds fast-paced and fun. Will check it out!