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Once & Future – Book Review

2019 has been a great year for retellings. From fairy tales to classic legends, there really is something for everyone. Once & Future is one of my most anticipated releases this year because the synopsis made me drool! A queer, feminist, gender-bending retelling of King Arthur, set in space, that is perfect for fans of Becky Chambers. Could there be a more perfect book for me?! I was lucky enough to be gifted an advanced reader copy from the publisher and have been holding this back for SO long that it has been killing me. Why hold it back? I didn’t want this one to get lost in the sea of book reviews as it is too important. I wanted publication day to be so close you could taste it.

Once & Future Book Cover


Title: Once & Future

Authors: Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy

Publisher: Rock the Boat

Published: 26th March 2019

Genres: YA Fantasy, Retelling, Sci-Fi, Dystopia

Book Review

Once & Future is a very special book on multiple levels. Perhaps I am not as well read as I think I am but in YA I have not come across a science-fiction retelling of a classic legend like this before. The premise is that Merlin is awakened when the new King Arthur is called by Excalibur. No reincarnation is the same but this time something is very different. This time Arthur is a girl!

Characters

Once & Future has an immensely diverse set of characters. Ari, the 42nd reincarnation of King Arthur, is an illegal immigrant who is adopted by her two Mothers after they find her floating in space. She is intelligent, quick witted and impulsive. Most of the characters in the novel develop really well but Ari’s development is particularly important as she shows that gender does not matter. She can fill the shoes of any king.

Merlin has to be my favourite character in the whole book. He had me laughing from the first chapter. Merlin is hilarious and definitely reminds me of the Disney incarnation. Merlin’s character is particularly important to the themes of book. He is utilised really well to juxtapose the inequalities and marginalisation we face in our 21st Century society against a potential future world where people are accepted for who they are.

There are many other important characters including Gwen and the knights of the round table. Although, I promise that they are all very different to how you remember them!

Style & World Building

Once & Future is very fast paced, which is fantastic as it really holds your attention. I have had to re-read a couple of parts when I haven’t fully absorbed what is happening, particularly when it cuts in to an ‘earlier in the day’ moment. That said it feels like a very light read, almost a little fluffy but in a good way.

I love some of the settings in the novel. The planet of Lionel is one of my favourites as the idea of a medieval themed planet is awesome! Each of the different settings have their own personalities and there is a really refreshing variety of places.

Themes

The overarching theme of Once & Future is equality in all forms. The diversity of characters is not something that has been added as an afterthought but instead forms the very building blocks of the novel. It explores important issues with humour and a lightness that is rarely found when covering such topics.

Representation

There is an unprecedented amount of representation throughout the novel, particularly on the LGBTQIAP+ spectrum. I really enjoyed all of the different love interests in the book but I was really happy to see the F + F and M + M relationships develop. I won’t say between who as I think you need to find out for yourself! There are characters who are bisexual, gay, straight, ace, non-binary, gender fluid and of many different ethnicities. This book should be an automatic read just for the representation alone.

Commercialism, Patriarchy & Culture

The evil Mercer Corporation is taking over the galaxy and they add a dystopian element to the book. Mercer is run by a middle-aged white male who you can’t help but accept is a symbol of the privileged patriarchy that must be stopped by the female hero. Some planets no longer have skies but instead have adverts wherever you choose to look up. The novel really strikes at capitalist culture and demonstrates the damage that it can do to individuals as well as other cultures.

Final Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed Once & Future and I cannot wait for the second installment. Believe me, you will understand when you get to the end of the book! This is not only a novel that I wanted to read but it is a book that I think was needed. We need more books with wide representation and inclusiveness, so it is really important that we all support own voices authors. The LGBTQIAP+ representation is particularly close to my heart. It is so refreshing that the F+F and M+M relationships are just a normal part of the story like any other romance. If you love diverse books or the legend of King Arthur then you need to read Once & Future.

What are your favourite books with great representation?

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28 Comments

  • 26th March 2019 at 8:15 am

    I definitely need to read this! It sounds so good. Thanks for the review!

    REPLY
    • 26th March 2019 at 11:12 am
      Dellybird

      Thank you for commenting! It is a really enjoyable read ๐Ÿ™‚

      REPLY
    • 28th March 2019 at 6:19 pm
      Dellybird

      Thank you for commenting. I hope you enjoy it if you pick it up!

      REPLY
  • 26th March 2019 at 10:29 am

    I can’t wait to read this book. I have a feeling that it is coming in my next Illumicrate box…

    REPLY
    • 26th March 2019 at 11:11 am
      Dellybird

      I have a feeling you might be right ๐Ÿ˜‰
      It is going to be a lovely edition I am sure! I am looking forward to reading it again as there were a lot of changes made for the final copy.

      REPLY
  • 26th March 2019 at 6:16 pm

    I may have just ordered a copy. This book sounds right up my street!

    REPLY
    • 26th March 2019 at 10:19 pm
      Dellybird

      Yay. I hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you think ๐Ÿ™‚

      REPLY
    • 28th March 2019 at 6:16 pm
      Dellybird

      Yay! I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know what you think ๐Ÿ™‚ Feel free to share your link here if you review it.

      REPLY
  • 26th March 2019 at 8:22 pm

    I have heard so many good things about this book!! Maybe I just need to pick it up myself haha ๐Ÿ™‚

    REPLY
    • 28th March 2019 at 6:15 pm
      Dellybird

      *Sneaks it into the shopping basket* muhahaha. Thanks for commenting ๐Ÿ™‚

      REPLY
  • 26th March 2019 at 11:18 pm

    lovely review, very tempted to try and fit this book into my tbr pile ๐Ÿ˜€

    REPLY
    • 28th March 2019 at 6:14 pm
      Dellybird

      Thank you. You should, I honestly would love to hear what you think to it!

      REPLY
  • 26th March 2019 at 11:50 pm

    Probably not my kind of thing, but great review! ๐Ÿ™‚

    REPLY
    • 28th March 2019 at 6:12 pm
      Dellybird

      If the synopsis doesn’t grab you then yeah it probably won’t be your thing. It is very different! Thank you for commenting ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • 27th March 2019 at 12:54 am

    Great review! I can’t wait to read this book.

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    • 28th March 2019 at 6:09 pm
      Dellybird

      Thank you! I am really excited for everyone to read it. Let me know what you think ๐Ÿ™‚

      REPLY
  • 27th March 2019 at 11:01 am

    Fantastic review, will add this one to my tbr ๐Ÿ™‚

    REPLY
    • 28th March 2019 at 6:07 pm
      Dellybird

      Thank you so much! Yay, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did ๐Ÿ™‚

      REPLY
  • 27th March 2019 at 11:06 am

    Great review! I’m really excited for this book!

    REPLY
    • 28th March 2019 at 6:06 pm
      Dellybird

      Thanks Lois. I hope you enjoy it!

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  • 1st April 2019 at 5:30 am

    King Arthur? I am in! This has automatically been added to be TBR! Thank you!

    REPLY
    • 5th April 2019 at 3:09 pm
      Dellybird

      Muhahaha. I hope you enjoy it! There are SO many amazing retellings this year. King Arthur is always one of my favourites. This one is VERY different too!

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  • 1st April 2019 at 7:05 pm

    I started this but wasn’t in the mood for it at the time – I definitely need to try it again after reading your review!

    REPLY
    • 5th April 2019 at 3:14 pm
      Dellybird

      I hope you enjoy it when you do pick it back up. As a mood reader I completely understand. It is never worth pushing through a book when you aren’t going to enjoy it at the time. This is quite a niche read too.

      REPLY
  • 18th April 2019 at 4:25 pm

    This is such a good review and really reflects what I thought about the book. I loved it as well and cannot wait to see what Ari and co get up to next.

    REPLY
    • 19th April 2019 at 7:36 pm
      Dellybird

      Thank you! I am glad you loved it too. The next book is going to be awesome and I am already excited. If you don’t follow both authors on Twitter then definitely do because all of the little writing tidbits they are dropping are <3

      REPLY
      • 20th April 2019 at 12:57 pm

        I am as well and I will make sure Iโ€™m following both of them ASAP!

  • 13th May 2019 at 11:36 pm

    The cover of this book is beautiful ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

    REPLY

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