|Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee|
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover, 240 pages (9780385753555)
Source: ARC received from Net Galley
Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard believes there is a scientific explanation for everything. After her mother dies, her father packs up Ophelia and her sister and takes a job at a museum where Ophelia first discovers something is not quite right in this quiet town. For one thing, it always snows, museum exhibits appear to move, some of the portraits are almost too lifelike, a clock is counting down to...something, and then there's the strange encounter with the mysterious boy locked away in a far corner of the museum... Ophelia must set aside everything she thinks she knows about the world and find her courage in order to solve the mystery and help the nameless boy.
"In the end the Queen was nothing like she was in the stories the Marvelous Boy had been told, first as a child beside the hearth and later by the wizards."
Ophelia and the Mysterious Boy is a charming middle-grade reader that takes place in the fantastical setting of a strange museum in England where exhibits take on a life of their own and nothing is as it seems.
"She didn't believe in wizards or boys with no names. These things could not be classified."
The museum was actually a character unto itself, and I found I was completely smitten with the location. Being a bit of a history and artifact geek, this is definitely the type of place I would visit if I lived in a magical world! I found myself much more interested in the museum exhibits and mysteries than I was with the mysterious boy, his mysterious back story, and his mysterious unknown name.
"Ophelia wasn't stupid. In fact, she belonged to the Children's Science Society of Greater London, which met on Tuesday nights. Of course she wouldn't get closer. It was only common sense."
One of the main issues I had with this book was having quirk for quirk's sake. Now don't get me wrong, I love quirky things and I do enjoy stories that take full advantage of randomness simply because they make life more colorful, but it all seemed rather forced in this novel. Unlike Neil Gaiman's or Catherynne Valente's stories, which utilize this method of storytelling to weave much more charming and interesting characters and tales, the author seems to just be mimicking this style rather than using her own unique voice. Another glaring issue was Ophelia's obsession with logic. You would think this would play some crucial role in the story, but really Ophelia is perfectly willing to accept all the unusual occurrences without a second thought. I'm not sure why the author made this one of her character traits when it doesn't seem to serve any higher purpose in furthering the story or Ophelia's growth as a character.
"Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard did not consider herself brave, but she had always been very hopeful."
Although I found Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy to be quite charming and a lovely, it just didn't completely win me over. While I appreciated having a courageous female lead for middle-grade readers, I just wasn't as smitten with Ophelia as I was with, say, Coraline or September. I guess, like the Snow Queen, my heart is too cold!
|Rating: 3 out of 5 macarons!|
If you liked Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, you might also want to check out:
|Coraline by Neil Gaiman|
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