Pros: Fast moving, action packed story with great characters
Cons: Assumes last book is fresh in your mind
The Bottom Line:
Jack and May are back
In a book you can't put down
Great for all readers
Twice as Hard to Put Down
Last year, thanks to author James Riley, I read the first book in his series of fractured fairy tales for upper elementary age kids, and I loved it. So when he offered me a copy of Twice Upon a Time in exchange for an honest review, I took him up on it. After all, I was planning to buy the book on my own.
I can't stress highly enough the importance of reading the books in order. This one assumes you've read the first book, and if you haven't, you'll be lost. In fact, I wish I had reread the last 50 pages or so of the first book before I started reading this one just so I'd remember what had happened before. It did come back to me as I read, but if I were starting here, I would probably have been very lost. Trust me, that's not something you will regret because both books are very fun.
It's been three months since we last checked in on Jack, May, and Phillip, and in that time, the trio think they've finally found the key to finding out who May really is. They just need to find a way to reach the Fairy Homelands. There's one problem, all the residents are under an evil curse that has put them to sleep, and our trio of heroes has 36 hours to find a way to break the curse before dragons come and burn the city to the ground. Their only hope involves a trip through the Land of Never to merman-infested water via a pirate ship. Will they find a way to reverse the curse in time?
The book offers a twist on some familiar tales, and I enjoyed picking out what he was spoofing for his book. Believe me, some characters you think you know get very different interpretations here. For me, that was part of the fun.
If you are thinking boys wouldn't be interested in these books because of the fairy tale setting, think again. There is so much action here it's hard to stop reading pretty much ever. Just as one crisis is adverted, a new, even larger one appears to take its place. In fact, I was so hooked I finished the last 140 pages in one sitting. And the ending? Let's just say I already can't wait to get my hands on the third volume. Talk about a cliffhanger!
The characters are growing as the story does. Jack and May especially are growing and changing because of what they are going through. Phillip? He has the greatest potential to be a flat character, but he also has some truly great moments.
Then there's the humor. May and Jack are both very sarcastic, and I can't help but smile and laugh at some of what they say. May, having grown up in our world, also has some interesting observations about how magic works that are wonderful.
I found the book very easy to get through, and I'm sure the target upper elementary school age will have no trouble getting through it. But I recommend it to anyone of any age. It truly is that much fun.
So pick up a copy of Twice Upon a Time. No magic spell will be needed; you'll be reading long into the night on your own.