Kid’s Book Review: Once There Was

Kid’s Book Review: Once There Was

About the Book and Author

Introducing a new fantasy story about a grieving girl from a new writer – Kiyash Monsef – published by Simon & Schuster.

Once was, once wasn’t . . .

So began the stories Marjan’s father told her as a little girl – tales of mythical beasts that filled her with curiosity and wonder: Griffons. Unicorns. Dragons.

But Marjan is not a little girl anymore. After her father’s sudden death, she is trying to hold it all together: her schoolwork, her friendships and her dad’s struggling veterinary practice. But a mysterious visitor soon reveals that Marjan’s father was no ordinary vet. The creatures from his stories are real – and he travelled the world to care for them.

Stepping into a secret world hidden in plain sight, where magical creatures are bought and sold, treasured and trapped, Marjan must take her father’s place. The deeper in she gets, the closer she comes to a shocking truth that will put both humans and beasts in terrible danger.

Kiyash Monsef’s earliest creative influences were the Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual, D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths, and Tom McGowen’s Encyclopedia of Legendary Creatures.

After he finished college he spent twenty years working in media. He produced Emmy-nominated television, wrote short stories, comic books, and games, and designed conversational and voice interface experiences.

Now, he lives with his family on the slope of a forested ravine in northern California, and thinks about monsters and legendary creatures.


Book Review

it is a very heartfelt book that has a lot of emotion in it

I feel that ‘Once There Was’ is officially one of my favourite books because it was jam-packed with emotion and is so relatable to everyone out there who is grieving someone close or special to them that have passed away. The main character, Marjan, has lost both of her parents and her dad was brutally murdered. When her mum died, she was overcome with sadness but strangely when her dad was killed, she just felt anger and annoyance. I think that a lot of people will feel like that if they didn’t part on good terms with the person who left. Grief can be overwhelming like that.

Okay, enough with the talk about death – let’s get onto the nicer things. In this book, because it’s in first person, there isn’t a lot of detailed description, but I think if there was, it wouldn’t fit the plot of it because then it would make it sound extremely formal. I also think that the description isn’t overly complicated, which is good because it’s understandable and easy to interpret the meaning. An example of this could be: ‘…. a retching cough exploded out of him, rattling his ribs and echoing lung deep.’

So, as an overview, I think that this book is suitable for ages 10+ and that the description isn’t overly complicated and that it was a very heartfelt book that had a lot of emotion in it. Overall, I would rate this book as one of my favourite books.

If you would would like to buy a copy of the book we invite you to order it from your local independent book shop.

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Alternatively, we suggest that you visit your local library and request to borrow a copy from a friendly librarian.

Whichever you choose we hope you enjoy being part of your unique reading community – happy reading everyone!

Reviewer Profile

  • Name: Reeya
  • Age: 12 years
  • Likes: Reading, Writing, English
  • Dislikes: Maths and Science
  • Favourite Book: A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
  • Favourite Song: Livin' on a Prayer by Bon Jovi
  • Favourite Film: The Hunger Games