Book Review | Once There Was by Kiyash Monsef

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Discover a world of extraordinary beasts and unexpected heroes in Once There Was, the dazzling debut from New York Times ​bestselling author Kiyash Monsef.

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.

Once There Was is perfect for readers aged 9+ and fans of Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling and A.F. Steadman.

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Once There Was

Be in to win 1 of 3 copies of Once There Was!

We are giving away three copies of this magical novel, perfect for lovers of Skandar and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

To enter, simply name three magical creatures that feature in Once There Was. (Hint: You will find the answer on this page).

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Read reviews from our Young Readers!

Holly, age 14

Once There Was is a magical novel about Marjan, a girl who discovers that her father was secretly a veterinarian to magical creatures. After his death she finds that she must take up his job, despite the many dangers.

This book was a great page turner and I always had to keep reading. I especially loved all the fantastic magical beasts and Marjan’s fearless nature.

This book is definitely at 10/10. I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves fantasy and magic.

Once There Was book review

Ellen, age 14

Hi my name is Ellen and I had the pleasure of reading Once There Was, the latest book from Kiyash Monsef. The story begins with a fairytale that Marjan, the main character, was told by her father when she was young. The next chapter skips to her at 15 years old, the new owner of her dad’s vet clinic. A role she has had to take on after becoming an orphan as her mother passed from cancer when she was 7, then her father mysteriously dies. The chapters alternate between her father’s tales and her current situation running her father’s struggling vet clinic.

Once There Was book review

Marjan struggles with the responsibilities of the vet clinic, all while trying to survive high school. Until a peculiar visitor arrives and persuades Marjan to travel to the UK, where she discovers all of her dad’s fairytales were real.

I think that this book would suit readers aged 11 years and above, who are interested in fantasy and make-believe.

I give this book a 7.5/10. Thank You to Kidspot to dive into this mystical and creative story.

Niam, age 13

Hello, My name is Niamh and this is my review on the book Once There Was by Kiyash Monsef.

This story is about a young girl named Marjan, who is coping with the sudden death of her father. She is pulled into the world of her father’s stories after a fateful trip to England.

Now, in her father’s place, as a vet for creatures of the imagination, with a magical room mate and runaway unicorn, Marjan has to save them all from the terrible truth that could alter the future for everyone’s existence.

Once There Was book review

The author has done an outstanding job at making loveable characters that make the story all the better. The setting is always changing, never the same place twice, it just makes the story so exciting. The story is so moving and capturing it makes you want to keep reading.

I believe this book is aimed at the age group 10-15, because it is quite long and maybe a bit mature for too young of a reader.

I would rate this book a 4.5 out of 5 and would place it in the top 20 of my favourite books. It is an amazing book that everyone should read. Thank you for reading my review!

Zara, age 12

Kia ora. My name is Zara and I’m 12 years old.

A few weeks ago I received a book in the post, called Once There Was, written by Kiyash Monsef. You might already know that mythical creatures aren’t real but this fictional book really made you second guess yourself. Some of my favourite themes in the book were courage, good versus evil, betrayal and revenge.

If I was to recommend this book to a certain age I would recommend it to kids aged 10 onwards because of the size of the book and it had some scary parts that not everyone would enjoy reading about.

Once There Was book review

Overall the rating for this book would have to be a 4 out of 5, because it was great to read except for when it took a bit too long building suspense for the exciting parts. Other than that it was amazing and cool, plus I would really recommend reading this fictional book.

Reviewers are provided with a copy of the book for the purposes of the review. Views are those of the reviewers. This article contains information provided by HarperCollins.

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