Whimsical Wednesday: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

Posted 8 January, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Whimsical Wednesday: Ophelia and the Marvelous BoyOphelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
Published by Random House Children's Books on January 28th 2014
Genres: Fairy Tales & Folklore, Friendship, General, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 224

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

“Magic is “messy and dangerous and filled with longing,” we learn in this brave tale of grief, villainy and redemption that borrows from the story of the Snow Queen. Set in a vast, chilly museum, the tale brings together a valiant girl, a charmed boy, a magical sword and a clock ticking down to the end of the world.”—The Wall Street JournalThis is the story of unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard who doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room.  He is a prisoner of Her Majesty, the Snow Queen.  And he has been waiting for Ophelia's help.As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy's own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.From the Hardcover edition.

Delightful! Charming! Fun! 

These are the first three adjectives that come to mind when describing Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy. It’s magical children’s lit at it’s very best. It doesn’t quite reach the brilliance of Roald Dahl as it lacks the sharp wit and humor that is found throughout his novels, (but let’s face it, will anyone, ever??) What other authors seem to have influenced this book? I’d say it feels a little like Neil Gaiman and C.S. Lewis, without all the Christian overtones. Obviously, as it is a retelling of The Snow Queen there are underlying influences of Hans Christian Anderson.

I loved that the strongest of the roles were played by women and girls. Ophelia is a mere girl of eleven with glasses that won’t stay clean and pigtails that always come out uneven if she has to put them up herself. 

This is a story about love and grief, betrayal and redemption, and above all the power of goodness. It sounds a bit hokey, but it’s important to remember that this title was written with a middle-grade demographic in mind (let’s say… seven to twelve) Ophelia (and even the Marvelous Boy) are exceptional role models. The writing is lyrical and full of great messages without being pedantic or overbearing.

“The strangest thing I have learned is that it’s impossible to know what’s inside someone. The wizards didn’t teach me this, but I have learned it myself. Those who appear tall and straight and very good are sometimes rotten on the inside, and others, huge and clawed and apparently very bad, sometimes contain a pure and sweet form of goodness. The biggest trap is to judge a person by their outer casing. Their skin. Their hair. Their snow-white feathers.”

As an adult this book appeals to me in part because I’m admittedly a  bit of an anglophile and this book is decidedly British. 

I also love museums, so there is something to be said about the author being able to capture the spooky feeling that you get when you’re in a room of a museum that is rarely visited. (It’s the same creepy feeling that you get being in a theme park alone, after all the guests have gone home.) 

This book is excellent, it’s especially excellent for middle grade girls.

April @ The Steadfast Reader


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