When fourteen-year-old American Eva Joyce unexpectedly finds herself spending the summer at the mysterious manor house of the English grandmother she’s never met, troubling questions arise: Why have her parents been so long estranged from her grandmother? What secrets are the manor staff—and the house itself—hiding?
When odd things start happening in the gardens at night, Eva turns to the elderly housekeeper, the gardener, and the gardener’s grandson, Frankie, for answers. Astonishingly, they all seem to believe that Eva’s favorite childhood fairy tales are true—and that her grandmother was once a queen in another world. But her grandmother’s heart is closed to the beauty and pain of the past. Now it’s up to Eva to discover what really happened.
Can Eva’s family’s relationships be restored? Do portals to other worlds exist, or are they closed for good? As she seeks answers, Eva finds herself unraveling dangerous secrets and wrestling with grief for a vanishing childhood, all while facing the fear that growing up means giving up fairy tales forever.
At age fourteen, Eva is ready to say that fairy tales aren’t true.1 But one summer at her grandmother’s English estate is enough to shake anyone’s unbelief. Strange things happen under the moonlight while secrets lurk at every turn. In Once A Queen, Sarah Arthur creates a family-centered fantasy set in the modern world, yet traveling to other times and places where family is defined by love and old tragedies. Readers will find few references to God, yet the hope of heaven shines through the story’s ending. Although some may find the echoes of Narnia too strong, Once A Queen is a gentle, intriguing fantasy that brings its world and characters to life with vividness and compassion.
Best for: Fans of fairy tales, young adult fantasy, and C. S. Lewis.
Discern: Several non-graphic murders and battles; children are disobedient and occasionally place themselves in potentially dangerous situations, someone suffers mental illness that seems used to justify infantilizing treatment.