When Ari Helix and her brother Kay crash-land on Old Earth, the last thing they expect to find is a sword. The VERY last thing Ari expects is the sword to be the legendary Excaliber, and for her to be the forty-second reincarnation of King Arthur.
Why this book?: I love the original King Arthur tales, but I also love stories that include queer people, space, and magic. So imagine my joy when this landed itself in my hands.
I would like to thank the people at Jimmy Patterson Presents & Hachette for sending an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.
I went into this book knowing that I was going to love it, but somehow this book still managed to blow me out of the water. Once & Future is a complex, unique retelling of King Arthur, with unexpected twists and turns that shocked the reader. Whenever I expected the story to go down a specific road, it always shocked you and went in a completely different direction. Capetta and McCarthy crafted an exquisite retelling of a classic, stereotypical story, and turn it on it’s head, and I cannot wait for the sequel, The Sword in the Stars.
The first things Capetta and McCarthy snag you on are the characters. I was unsure about Ari at first, but as the story progressed she grew on me. She was impulsive and didn’t listen to others, but she had a heart of gold that just melded so well with the rest of her character. Her brother Kay was also hard to sell at first, but something about him just made you like him. My personal favorites were Merlin and Val–a sarcastic, hilarious reincarnation of the legendary wizard Merlin, and a charming, feminine boy who knew what he wanted and went out and got it. Not only that, but Lamarack–god, I loved them so much. As more characters were introduced, you noticed that they were all wildly different but each complimented another perfectly. They were all a part of the dysfunctional crew, but that’s what made it so endearing.
Just like I mentioned above, the actual story was a wild ride. It never went where you expected it to go, and the crew was always keeping you at the edge of your seat. And when it wasn’t, you were getting romantic subplots that actually worked really well, and featured queer relationships for both. They were both complex and interesting, and there was substance behind them that made the story and the character interactions so much better. All in all, I believe that the queer rep included a f/f relationship, a m/m relationship, an asexual (badass) knight, and a non-binary snark-master. There was also a background f/f couple that were Ari and Kay’s mothers. The amount of queer people in this story was astoundingly lovely.
I can’t say much for the race representation, but I’ll say that I really enjoyed Ari’s point of view. Ari is an illegal immigrant, after the Mercer Corporation cut off her planet from the rest of the world. Ari has to constantly hide because of this, and even looking up her home could get them in trouble. This fact is very important to the story, and while the treatment of her people was revolting–it’s not unheard of, especially in today’s society. In addition to Ari, Lam and their brother Val were black, and I think they were written well. It wasn’t about them being black–they were just described as such and left at that.
Final Rating: ★★★★★
I loved this book so much, and it’s hard for me to explain why. The characters were done so well, and so was the romance (and romance is normally a hard sell for me). I loved the story and how fast-paced it was, but I also loved the short lulls that Capetta and McCarthy afforded for you in-between the really stressful scenes. Once & Future was crafted so well, and I just can’t wait for more.
Would I Recommend?
I can’t think of why someone shouldn’t read this book, honestly! It’s an amazing story that has complex characters and a dynamic, engaging plot. I can’t not recommend it.
Trigger warnings for death, violence, animal violence, animal death, misgendering, racism, implied/non-graphic sexual content. (I may have missed some, so please double check with others if you need to!)
Published: March 26th, 2019
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Presents
Page Count: 336
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult/Science Fiction
Synopsis: via Goodreads
I’ve been chased my whole life. As a fugitive refugee in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.
Now I’m done hiding.
My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.
When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.
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