“If I had a dollar for every writer who told me of their childhood love for the d’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths…what is it about that book?
Everyone has an illustration that’s stuck with them. For me, it’s the kraken rising up out of the ocean. And for a lot of people it was one of our first exposures to really old stories and a deep, continuous mythology. They’re unapologetically complex, internally referential, and ask a lot of young readers, visually and narratively. When you work hard to enjoy something at a young age, it leaves an impression.” ―Kiyash Monsef, Interview, Horn Book
What booksellers are saying about Once There Was
- When Marjan’s father is mysteriously murdered, she discovers he was a veterinarian to the kinds of mythic creatures in the stories he once told her…and she inherited his power to care for beasts like griffons and gnomes herself. Once There Was is an emotionally rich, beautifully told story, full of adventure, mystery, and magical realism, with great Iranian-American representation, about the paradox of living—wonder and responsibility, grief and connection—that I’d love for readers of all ages to enjoy and engage with.
―Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia | Buy from Underground Books
- I absolutely loved the writing in this book. Not overly stylized fantasy– well-grounded in relatable language and situations, not “high fantasy”. The relationships are tender and sweet and cover everything from friendships, to parent/caregiver, to romantic. The plot develops well, the ending is satisfying without being twee. The character development is spot on and I’ve never met a unicorn more fascinating! Monsef’s gentle treatment of the traumatic effects of grief and loss are beautiful.
―Elisa Forshey, Givens Books & Little Dickens in Lynchburg, Virginia | Buy from Givens Books & Little Dickens
- Marjan is having to deal with a lot for a teenager — her mom died years ago, leaving her with a strained relationship with her dad…but now her dad’s died suddenly, too, and Marjan has to keep his veterinary practice up and running in addition to her schoolwork and basic necessities. Then Marjan finds out that her dad wasn’t just a vet, that the mythical animals from the stories he told her are real, and he would treat them when needed — and now Marjan has inherited that responsibility, as well. It’s a responsibility that Marjan isn’t sure she wants, but she decides to at least see what it’s all about. And her life changes, sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better, but ultimately in the ways she needs. A story that will appeal to both middle-grade and young adult readers who love myths, about discovering the missing parts of yourself — whether you know they’re missing or not, and whether or not you want them.
― Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina | Buy from Fiction Addiction
About Kiyash Monsef
Kiyash Monsef is an Emmy Award–nominated producer and director; a writer of short stories, videos, comic books, and games; and a designer of innovative conversational and voice interface experiences. Once There Was is his first novel.