Sunday, May 26, 2013

Book Review: Once Upon the End by James Riley (Half Upon a Time #3)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters and a well executed plot
Cons: Only if you try to start the series here
The Bottom Line:
Trilogy concludes
With plenty of action, laughs
Growing characters

Jack, May, and Phillip Have One Last Chance to Stop the Evil Queen

As soon as the last book in this series ended, I started counting down the days until I could read Once Upon the End.  Not only had I enjoyed the first two books in this alternative fairy tales trilogy, but I needed to know what was going to happen next with the cliffhanger we were left with.

Turns out, this book opens three months after Jack left May and Phillip.  During this time, he’s been training to serve his new master.  Meanwhile, Phillip is in his country with Penelope (aka Sleeping Beauty) wishing for adventure.  And May has taken her place with her evil step-mother and step-sisters.

But plans are in motion for one final showdown with the Evil Queen.  And there is still the prophecy that one of the guys will betray May and the other will die.  Will any of them be able to win the freedom of the people in their realm?

Is this making no sense to you?  Then this book isn’t for you…yet.  As I already mentioned, this is the third in a trilogy.  So really, don’t jump in here.  Heck, I reread the ending of the last book, and I still had a bit of a hard time remembering all the twists that had happened along the way.  As I went along, my memories were jogged and all the pieces fell into place.  But you really do need that background.  Trust me.

Once you do, you’ll find this book is an absolute blast.  The story never lets up as we switch between our various characters, and somehow they seem to always be in peril when we switch to someone else.  Yet things fall into place perfectly as the story progresses until we reach a satisfying conclusion.

In all three books, Jack, May, and Phillip have grown as characters, and that continues here as well.  While I always liked them, I like them better now for seeing how they’ve changed for the better.

Then there’s the humor.  There’s less of it than in previous books since we are getting ready for the big showdown with the ultimate villain, but there were still several times I laughed out loud, something I don’t always do with books.  There were plenty of grins as well along the way.

The series is aimed at middle grade readers, and I have no doubt they’ll enjoy it.  The writing should present no problem for them, and they’ll get lost in the world the author weaves.  I know I sure did.

So anyone who enjoys taking a different look at fairy tales needs to pick up the Half Upon a Time trilogy.  After enjoying the first two, you’ll love seeing how it all comes together in Once Upon the End.

Note: While the author did send me the first two in exchange for honest reviews, I did buy this one myself.

This is my entry in this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.  For other entries, check out Shannon Messenger's blog.


  1. Another series to check out this summer. Thanks!