Review: Once Upon A [Stolen] Time by Samreen Ahsan

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Once Upon A Time, there was a book... 




ABOUT THE BOOK

2015…
All her life, Myra Farrow has been obsessed with medieval castles—and the kings and princes who once inhabited them. Now, wealthy videogame designer Steve Bernard wants her to model for a princess character in his new game. Myra can’t resist his offer, especially when she learns that Steve plans to film inside the mysterious Hue Castle—a cursed, barren, colorless place forbidden to visitors for centuries. But unknown to Myra, her soul is bound to Hue Castle by blood and sorcery. When she enters its doors, she awakens dark powers that will reach through time—stealing her past, torturing her present, and rewriting her future.

1415…
Edward Hue, the last of the Hue royal bloodline, has never stood in the sunshine or held a living flower. Cursed from birth to live in darkness and bring death to all he touches, he is at the mercy of his cruel, tyrannical father, who will not rest until he shatters Edward’s soul and makes his son into a diabolical copy of himself. Edward’s one hope is the mysterious woman who haunts his dreams—who will either break his curse and bring him out of the darkness, or destroy him utterly.

For Myra and Edward, past and future collide in a tale of love, obsession, betrayal, and the hope for redemption.
  




Once Upon A [Stolen Time] by Samreen Ahsan | Rating: ★★★★☆

As a note, a copy of this novel was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

I'm feeling incredibly spoiled with beautifully crafted fantasy novels this year. During my readathon (thanks to "Deep Freeze" 2019 and being stuck indoors due to freezing temperatures) I've found my TBR shrinking in size, thanks to many deeply engrossing novels. Samreen Ahsan is one of the leaders of the pack when it comes to these gorgeous tales and Once Upon A [Stolen] Time is, frankly, already one of my favourites of the year.

I can't believe I've only just now read it, as it's been out since 2015, but... better late than never? First of all, my head is still reeling from this book. Because, this BOOK YOU GUYS. I'm not the only one who is at a loss for words (in a REALLY good way) but... wow. I made the mistake of assuming at first that it was bound to be a lighter read, heavy on historical romance but there was so much more to it than that. It's a perfect concoction of mystery, fantasy, romance, action and the finished product is something highly indulgent.

First of all: the formatting in how this story is told! I adore it. It's so unique and really adds a layer of fantastical goodness to the story that I'm ALWAYS keen on. Always. I completely adore when stories have this unique and borderline bizarre tone to it (one of my favourite shows is Twin Peaks, after all) because it gives an extra kick to everything. When a story keeps me guessing or even questioning my own perception of things, I'm all the more enthralled.

Once Upon A [Stolen] Time is nothing if not enthralling and intricate and a little off the path of ordinary. What makes it work is the high stakes tone virtually everything takes. Samreen Ahsan will leave you breathless and that's a fact. It's all a matter of when. I was drawn in from the start, but around 30%... I was ALL IN and completely out of breath.

Further, Ahsan builds something truly special in not only her characters and plotlines but in the worldbuilding. She showcases her talent in her vivid prose and it really, really works to captivate readers until the final chapter. Some may find the way the story unfolds (its timelines) to be a bit confusing, but it all depends on the person.

In short, you're going to consume this novel just as much as it consumes you. What more could you want from a book?

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