“The Once Upon a Time of Now” by Hope West

“The Once Upon a Time of Now” by Hope West 640 1024 Reader Views Kids

The Once Upon a Time of Now

Hope West
FriesenPress (2023)
ISBN: 978-1039167889
Reviewed by Rachel Dehning for Reader Views (02/2024)

Hope West’s “The Once Upon a Time of Now” is a mystical, mythical, and thought-provoking story that teaches the art of appreciating your surroundings and making every moment count.

One night, a young Canadian girl named Agnes, while marveling at the vast starry sky and weighed down by heavy questions, is presented with a mysterious object put in her lap from the heavens. Excitedly showing her best friend, G, the object of contemplation, they find themselves transported down a rabbit hole (of sorts) into the Forest of Consciousness. Meeting new friends and others of higher power, the group embarks on their preordained quest to locate the Lost Temple. Along the way, individuals and relationships transform physically, mentally, and emotionally, becoming newer and better versions and discovering their full potential. The journey presents secrets, raises questions, and reveals the undisclosed power held within us.

“The Once Upon a Time of Now” is metaphorical as it includes deities and prominent figures in the Hindu religion, disguised within West’s characters through their personality and appearances. A cast of “characters” is included at the conclusion to inform the reader, potentially improve their knowledge of principal figures in world religions, and answer questions regarding dialogue or descriptions.

The story reads as a fantasy reminiscent of a fairy tale with talking animals, miniature-sized people, and a quest with otherworldly obstacles to overcome; however, the amount of comprehension intertwined in the content proves a more mature audience is appropriate. There is a brief moment referring to gods “making love,” but this is the extent of sexual talk or references. The text supports a higher-level reader with more comprehensive word choices; the feel of the story is philosophical as much is said and taught about self-reflection and understanding yourself. Multiple ways to meditate and engage in techniques are mentioned, with proper and beneficial breathing being a central theme.

This reader found “The Once Upon a Time of Now” by Hope West as a whole, to be engaging, but there are slow moments, and with each new scene the characters are repetitive with their teachings. However, not having known about Hindu beliefs before beginning the story, this reader feels better informed by the end.   

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