Payal Kapadia is an award-winning author, who grew up reading books and following her imagination. She studied English literature at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. She did her M.S. in journalism from Northwestern University, Chicago. Her debut novel was Wisha Wozzariter, for which she won the Crossword Book Award in 2013. She lives in Mumbai with her husband and two daughters. Apart from writing, she loves to sing and explore new places.


A real princess holds her head up high even if it bears the heaviest crown.

Twice upon a Time is a hilarious and flamboyant princess story for young girls. The plot concerns two girls, Keya and Nyla. Both of them have contradicting characteristics when it comes their nature, social status and outlook. This sets the stage for the author to take readers on an enthralling ride packed with mind-blowing action and wit.

Princess Keya is a pampered princess of the Pompuspur kingdom. Her behavior is ladylike and she is a princess in and out. Teenage, however, wreaks havoc in Keya’s life. She becomes fed up with all the royal etiquette and the pretentious attitude it begets. She decides to take a break from her rigorous routine that is governed by a rigid protocol.

On the other hand, Nyla is a tomboy to the core. She is a doppelgänger of Keya and is willing to take the princess’ place. However, coming from a completely different – in fact, an almost opposite – social background, Nyla needs to be trained to behave like a princess. She needs to fulfill a lot of terms and conditions to fill Keya’s boots. That’s where Keya steps in and takes the training of her lookalike into her own tiny hands.

And thus begins the action-packed plot of Twice upon a Time. Together the girls ruffle a few feathers, fend off fiery dragons, break free of outdated traditions, encounter some amusingly puny princes, and ignite revolutions. In the process, they develop an unexpected bond and come face to face with their strengths and shortcomings.

Payal Kapadia’s excellent characterization makes the story more relatable. This is applicable not just to the protagonists, but also to supporting characters such as the window-cleaning boy. Every character seems to be speaking to the readers. Readers gradually find themselves engrossed in the world of Keya and Nyla, and laugh with them at the exhilarating turn of events.

Ameya Rating:

Twice upon a Time deserves a score of 4.5 stars out of a possible 5. Its simple and straightforward storyline, well-etched characters, witty moments and subtle lessons make the novel an enjoyable read, particularly for teenagers. The vivid descriptions and fluid language add life to the plot and invite young readers to visualize the scenes. Kapadia uses interesting idioms and witty quotes to round off the splendid experience. The awe-inspiring illustrations by Sandhya Prabhat add an element of appeal to the plot. Finally, at just 183 pages, the novel does not get too cumbersome and serves as a perfect read for children.

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