Author: Roshani Chokshi
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…
Once More Upon a Time begins with the fairy tale of The Twelve Dancing Princesses where one princess marries the suitor at the end. However, this story features one of the other eleven princesses, Imelda. There is another tale of three princes who must defeat three dragons in order to inherit the kingdom. This story features the middle brother, Ambrose, who did not win his father’s kingdom. The story takes Imelda and Ambrose as they marry and their own tale is woven with its own fairy tale complete with a curse, a poisoned tomato, an enchanted honey badger, and a magical talking cloak.
The story has a fairy tale set-up, as there is a central narrator, who reveals their identity as the story moves forward. The narrator tells the story to the reader and stops in sections where the story slows down to give details where Ambrose and Imelda’s perspectives are told. Through this type of story telling, it was very fitting for a classic fairy tale and I could picture it playing out like a movie in my mind. Ambrose and Imelda fall in love at first sight. They are only married for a day before they are cursed to lose their love for each other, which lasts for a year before the story’s adventure begins. They are sent on a final quest where they must retrieve a potion for a witch, which is where Ambrose and Imelda are forced to become reacquainted with each other along the way.
The two characters were a delight as they had great chemistry and it was interesting to see them discover more about the other. Through their journey, each character’s original tale is integrated into their character development. Imelda’s relationship with shoes based on her past and I love how it is weaved into her part of the story and how Ambrose works to understand this part of her. In turn, Ambrose has a complex relationship with the concept of love among other issues he is dealing with from his past. These were all well integrated into his story and Imelda was a great partner to try to understand him. Although I was not quite on board with either character in the beginning, they both grew on me and I greatly enjoyed them by the end.
Overall, this is a short and sweet fairy tale with lots of witty humor. Since it is a shorter story, of course, I wish it were longer. I would love if it were expanded into a full-length novel, as it would be nice to explore both characters in more depth. There is a lot in this novel that was enjoyable and I just wanted more! Since it does utilize the twelve dancing princesses story, there could be room for expansion with ten sisters still remaining to have their story told if the author wanted to create a story for each. If it contained the same joy and great characters, easily I would read all of them!
**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, for the opportunity to read this enjoyable novel. The opinions expressed are completely my own.**