Clarinet Reid is a pretty typical teenager. On the surface. She’s smart, but a bit of a slacker; outgoing, but just a little insecure; not exactly a mischief-maker…but trouble tends to find her wherever she goes. Also? She unwittingly carries a centuries-old Druid blood curse in her veins.
Now, with a single thoughtless act, what started off as the Summer Vacation in Dullsville suddenly spirals into a deadly race to find a stolen artifact, avert an explosive catastrophe, save a Celtic warrior princess, right a dreadful wrong that happened centuries before Clare was even born, and if there’s still time – literally – maybe even get a date.
This is the kind of adventure that happens to a girl once every…never.
Clare and her best friend Al are spending the summer in England with Clare’s aunt – Clare because she’s been exiled (punishment for a party gone wrong), and Al because she wants to keep Clare company. So take two smart and mischief-making teenagers, one history-loving, museum working aunt, and a newly gorgeous but still nerdy cousin Milo and Clare is in for the summer of her life – including kidnappings, travels to the past and a whole lot of Druid magic.
Once Every Never is a little bit of everything – mystery, thriller, romance, historical, time travel. From the moment Clare touches an ancient shield in the museum restoration room and is transported to the past, there is never a moment of peace for our characters. Clare and Al handle everything with only minimal freaking out, and Milo is at first skeptical and then believing once he sees how Clare shimmers to the past. The action starts in earnest with a kidnapping by a known thief and self-proclaimed Druid Stuart Morholt. There’s betrayal, secrets and a nice bit of romance thrown in for good measure.
I highly enjoyed getting to know Clare, Al and Milo, and was kept anxious and wondering about how the girls would ever escape Morholt, but my favourite parts of the story are when Clare is in the past with Princess Comorra and the Druid Connal. The imagery is so rich, and the details put into the setting, dress and mannerisms of the Celts is wonderful. I was hooked into the story, and couldn’t put it down. I’m lucky I was reading it during a flight home from Mexico with a five away layover+delay in Newark – I didn’t have to put it down! I want to know so much more about what happened to Comorra, Connal and the Queen Boudicca (Comorra’s mother) during the times that Clare was not there.
Usually time travel makes my brain ache trying to keep everything straight and wondering how the people traveling keep from changing things. The time travel in Once Every Never was nice and easy to make sense of, and even though Clare was changing things left, right and center, almost everything she did was meant to happen in order to get her to the time where she traveled for the first time. It was a nice big circle of “I don’t have to worry about changing anything, because whatever I do is meant to happen”. I never once had to go back and re-read something because I was lost, though it came close at the very end (it took me a minute to keep everyone and everything that was happening straight, but it was a brief moment).
Once Every Never is a breathtaking whirlwind of an adventure through modern and ancient Britain. It is wonderfully written and full of intense imagery and emotion. I found it so easy to get involved with the characters and the story, and would love to read more. I highly recommend this to any fan of time travel, history and adventure.
is a writer and actress living in Toronto. She has a master’s degree in English from the University of Toronto, where she specialized in Arthurian literature and Shakespeare. She is the author of an award-winning urban fantasy trilogy for teens that includes the novels Wondrous Strange (winner of the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award and Ontario Library Association Whie Pine Honour Book), Darklight and Tempestuous.
Review copy for the tour provided by Bronwyn from Penguin Canada. Thank you!