YA author Roshani Chokshi (The Gilded Wolves) makes her adult fantasy debut with Once More Upon a Time, a lighthearted, romantic fairy tale novella about second chances.
When Imelda, one of the 12 famous dancing princesses, falls in love with Prince Ambrose, her father gives the happy couple a part of his realm called Love's Keep. To ensure the prosperity of this particular domain, the king and queen must always remain in love. "Far too much pressure," the narrator tsks. Sadly, a tainted heirloom tomato poisons Imelda at their wedding brunch, and the witch who sells Ambrose a healing spell asks a high price: their love. Without it, Imelda and Ambrose lose Love's Keep after a year and a day. Then the same witch reappears and offers them a deal: if they retrieve a vial of her favorite potion, she'll give them each their dearest wish. The former lovers set off with the help of an enchanted road, a wisecracking cloak that believes itself to be a horse, and "some granola. One can never go amiss in life with some granola." Not to mention a fair amount of emotional baggage between them. As they battle their foes together, though, Imelda and Ambrose find themselves in the one danger neither wants to risk: falling in love with each other again.
This short, charming fable is packed with tongue-in-cheek humor and astute reflections on the sacrifices and risks that come with love as free-spirited Imelda and self-conscious Ambrose reconnect. Mimicking oral storytelling techniques, Chokshi's playful narrative invites readers to relax into a delightful adventure of twice upon a time. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads