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Review: Once Upon A [Stolen] Time

Once Upon A [Stolen] Time Once Upon A [Stolen] Time by Samreen Ahsan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Final Score - 5 Oh Em Gee, What Happens Next? Stars!!!

Myra isn't your average 22-year-old. She slightly obsessed with everything medieval, princess and castles, but she seems to be grounded and relateable. Her family, who is used to mixing with various social circles, is trying to steer Myra aware from obsession. They believe her tying the knot is long overdue and so they arrange for her to meet Steven, a wealthy bachelor with connections.

Steven in turn unveils himself as a homosexual during their very first meeting and confesses his plans of using her as his main character in his video game to be based on Hue Castle. Little does Myra at this point know, that Steven isn't being completely honest with her or of the journey that she is about to embark on.

Hue Castle holds many secrets, and Myra has always been fascinated by it. The mysterious lives and the disappearance of its last inhabitant, the land is barren, no light can enter, no life is anywhere to be found within its walls. Cameras are unable to capture anything within the castle's boundaries, and then, there is the mysterious mirror (the portal of communication) in the castle's chapel.

It is this mirror and its strange workings that starts Myra's search for the truth of what happened to the last inhabitants of this castle. Why is everything within the castle's borders dead? Who is the man she sees in the mirror? Why can she feel communicate with him? Why is she the only one who sees him? Why does he seem to know her? Why do they share the same eyes? Why can she not forget him?

Its the connection she feels to the man in the mirror that are the driving force behind her quest to figure out why Edward, the last heir of the Hue royal bloodline, disappeared on his 28th birthday never to be heard of again. What's eerie about this connection is this mirror - its being used as a portal, allowing Myra & Edward to communicate with one another. And this communication should be virtually impossible, Myra is living in the year 2015, while Edward is living 600 yrs in the past, in 1415.

Despite Myra's attraction to the man in the mirror playing a large part in her motivation towards finding out the truth, I did not perceive the first installment of the Stolen series to be a romance novel. It had more elements of a good mystery book to me, one that I actually enjoyed reading and discovering the truth behind the lies that have been hidden in the walls of this castle for centuries.

Ms. Ahsan has crafted a beautiful time travel story - one that I could not put down once I really started reading. I got pulled into the plot, into the characters and their worlds = both past and present. I still need to know all and everything there is to know about the circumstances of Myra's and Edward's existence and why they were able to communicate with each other at certain times.

I could picture myself right there with them, experiencing every excruciatingly mysterious moment right along with the characters. I could feel their anguish and I was amazed by their depth - they felt real to me.

Edward, I found to be an incredibly complex character. As I was turning page after page trying to understand him, trying to see where he was going, how he was reacting, uncovering all the facets there were to his character, I myself couldn't help but be as drawn to him as Myra was. I was cheering along with her, wanting desperately to get back to the castle to have her questions answered, her prayers for him put to rest. Steven also presented a challenge - as Myra's pseudo fiance - and he didn't disappoint either. Whilst I found him slightly dull at the beginning, towards the end of this novel his actions grew more and more complex, showing us other sides of him, not as monochrome and one sided as he might have appeared at the beginning. I don't trust him, and neither should Myra. He's intentions go beyond self fulfilling desires for his game to succeed. I think he is the character we all should be keeping our eyes on.

This is more than just a tale of a girl trying to discover who she really is ... or a man succumbing to the darkness surrounding him.

The fact that the book ended with a cliffhanger left me frustrated but excited as well. I cannot wait for Once Upon A [Fallen] Time to become available. I would kill to know what is going to happen next.

If you haven't read this book yet, you may just be missing out on pure gold.

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