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Once Every Never

by Lesley Livingston

Fantasy author Lesley Livingston is well-known for weaving magic into her narratives. With her new novel, the author of the Wondrous Strange trilogy has done something that goes beyond magical – in fact, it may just be miraculous. In Once Every Never, the first in a planned trilogy, Livingston has combined the worlds of chick lit and Druid blood curses. And it works.

Seventeen-year-old Clare Reid is sent to England for the summer as punishment for hosting a wild house party. While most teens likely would not view a European vacation as particularly punitive, Clare dreads the time she will have to spend with her Aunt Magda – a hyper-intellectual archaeologist employed at the British Museum.

While visiting the museum, Clare accidentally touches an ancient artifact and finds herself transported back to the Iron Age. She quickly gets mixed up in some major Druid drama, and must race against the clock to rescue a Celtic warrior princess from the impending Roman invasion. The present also becomes problematic when a museum thief learns of Clare’s time-travel abilities.

Clare is smart and feisty, but never takes any situation too seriously. When hunky Druid Connal murmurs that Clare smells like flowers, she thinks, “I smell like Pantene Pro-V Extra Volume.” Livingston’s talent for imbuing frothiness and fizz into the usually stoic world of fantasy is tremendously refreshing. Sure, the stakes never feel very high and the danger is never all that palpable, but the proceedings are a lot of fun.

Even readers who are bored stiff by the prospect of old dead Druids will likely be won over by this enjoyably campy time-travel story. Necessary historical details are seamlessly incorporated into the narrative, and Livingston has a real knack for highlighting the juicier parts of the past.