Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

2.5/5 STARS:

The title is perfect. We go extremely far into the future and Arthur, reborn again, this time a girl, finds the sword and must be trained by Merlin, who is woken up again. Morgana’s magic is the cause of the cycle and possibly the cause of Merlin’s Benjamin Button aging. Nin, the Lady of the Lake, also makes an appearance.

Our female Arthur (known as Ari) has a sidekick brother with a girl’s name: Kay. This takes some getting used to, as well as the pronoun “they” which is often used as a gender-neutral tool for one character. They (Ari, Merlin, Kay, as well as Gwen, Lam, Jordan and Val—to be Ari’s “knights”) will rescue Ari and Kay’s moms and hopefully then save the world which is run-destroyed by a big corporation.

It’s a quirky story, not easy-to-read. I’m a huge King Arthur fan, so I had thought I might enjoy it. Eventually it became a fun read. For an LGBT YA Arthurian story, I’m not surprised it has become a successful novel.

I’m not fond of evil witch cliches in any story unless there’s a good witch, too. This story already has Mercer (the monopolizing big corporation) as the villain, so I was disappointed Morgana was a bad guy, but I still liked her character and later on in the story felt much better about the whole thing. Nin, on the other hand, is evil here, so far. I have a favorite quote from the story, made by Morgana’s character: “… too many people believe that difference is the enemy of unity.” It also seems to be the theme of the novel.

Over half-way through I started to enjoy the story. As it neared the end, it became even more enjoyable to read; however, I did not like the ending, albeit somewhat appropriate for the legend. It brought in something new (***) too near the end when a possibility of such a thing should have been at least hinted possible at some point prior to it happening. It is, however, possible that I missed the hint. Does that make sense? Also, I didn’t realize this book was going to be a series, although I should have considered it since it’s nearly impossible to find novels otherwise now-a-days. It is only a two-part series, though, which is good.

The “epic conclusion” to Ari and Merlin’s cycle is coming in 2020, titled “The Sword in the Stars.” Although I give this review only 2.5 stars, I will most likely buy the sequel– and I have a feeling that having gotten used to the writing style I will like it much better. Plus, it will take place ***, and I absolutely love culture crashing as well as *** novels (***I’m not sure I should say without spoiling.)

Until then…

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