Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee Review

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
Available Now
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Middle Grade
Hardback 240 pages
To Buy Links:
Amazon/ Kindle/ Audible/ Audio Book CD/ B and N/ Book Depository/ Indiebound/ Kobo 

Goodreads- A modern-day fairy tale set in a mysterious museum that is perfect for readers of Roald Dahl and Blue Balliett.

Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard 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 is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.


This is an interesting tale, incorporating the story of The Snow Queen in a very unique setting with an intrepid, sad, heroine, who finds her courage in the quest to save the Marvelous Boy. The story unfolds slowly with a beginning told from the Marvelous Boy's point of view and then opens again in a more modern time with Ophelia and her sister, Alice and their father in the museum as he sets up a display of swords, the finest in the world, set to open on Christmas Eve.

Characters-  Ophelia is of course, the main character. She is timid, but curious and bored with sitting around watching her father or getting fashion tips from her older sister, Alice which she declares "are useless" on her. So she goes wandering this strange museum. She misses her mom and reminisces about good days with her. But when she finds the Marvelous Boy locked in a secret room, her scientific mind tells her he is not possible and his story is improbable. However, her mother believed in imagination, she was a horror writer, and as her mother begins to whisper to her when Ophelia questions herself, Ophelia begins to wonder, if the story the boy told her was true, if she can believe her own eyes, ears, and feelings.
She shows remarkable growth from a young girl, moping about, to a girl who wants to save the world.

Unfortunately, Dad is absentminded and not very present. Alice, older sister to Ophelia is easily swayed by the Snow Queen, seeking beauty and an escape from her own sorrow.

The Marvelous Boy- tells his story through flashbacks. His story is very unusual. He has no name. The wizards that sent him to Ophelia's world hundreds of years ago, took his name and despite his desperate trying, he cannot remember his name. He has been locked in his room for hundreds of years by the Snow Queen who is waiting for a clock to run out, for a charm put on him to expire. Then she will be able to kill him and rule the world, Ophelia's world.

The Snow Queen- It is obvious as the story begins who the Snow Queen is and what the story is about. I won't say, but leave it to anyone that doesn't know the story to figure it out for themselves. But she is just as icy and wicked as any Snow Queen, ever!

The Setting- The setting is the museum and it is fascinating. It reminds me a lot of a room in Hogwarts that changes every time you go in it. I think it was whatever you needed it to be, in Hogwarts. In this story, there is a room that changes as circumstances change. The museum seems to change, becoming more sinister as the Snow Queen becomes more wicked and shows herself more. It does seem dark in some places and Ophelia travels in a forbidden elevator to rickety stairs up and down, past dinosaurs, dollhouses, a room of broken toys, beautiful ball gowns, a gallery of portraits of beautiful, young unsmiling girls and on and on. It is definitely a museum of many things.

The StoryI can imagine the museum sparking the imagination of Ophelia, but she isn't one given to imagination. She is scientific, a member of the Children's Science Society of Greater London which met on Tuesday nights. And yet.... she is drawn into the Marvelous Boy's story and the magic of the museum.
It is a great story of a family slowly drifted apart by the sorrow of the death of the woman that kept them glued together. And this story somehow, includes all the members of Ophelia's story, bringing them in as different parts of the story of the Snow Queen reshaping. I have to say, it isn't really a retelling. Ophelia is a great heroine, especially for young girls, she isn't the typical girl you would expect as the girl that tries to save the day.

My take- I loved this story. It was short and engaging. The museum was a great backdrop with it's own mysteries. The Marvelous Boy's story was a sharp contrast to the main story line and I felt attached to both characters. I want to believe in all the fantasy characters I read about, but like Ophelia, I believe what my eyes see. I think the real magic, is in the beauty of a well told story, friendships, doing more than you believe you are capable of. This story was magic.

Absolutely wonderful story for  MG readers and up. I read the e- Arc so I am not sure about the chapters, how long they are, but I think it would be a great read aloud story for a teacher or parent and child if they are younger!

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for review. It did not influence my opinion of this novel. All opinions expressed are my own.

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  1. I love the sounds of this one. It looks so good!

  2. I'm reading this one right now-about half way and I'm enjoying it. I don't know much about the original Snow Queen story but I think I'll look it up when I'm done reading this one.

  3. Hmm I don't know anything about the Snow Queen. The setting and the story sound terrific. I am going to add this to my Pinterest board for my kids. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. Sounds like a great MG book that I would enjoy! Oh sounds like a great one for me and my cousins. Read before I pass it along? LOL

  5. I really enjoyed this book. I thought the author did a wonderful job taking elements from the Snow Queen, yet creating something new and unique. I loved the little museum, and your right, it does kind of remind you of the changing room in Hogwarts. Great review and glad you enjoyed it too :)


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