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Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

Review

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

A museum would seem like the perfect place for a smart and curious girl like Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard. Unfortunately, Ophelia is still mourning the loss of her mother, and moving to a foreign city for her father’s job isn’t what she or her older sister Alice had in mind. Ophelia busies herself by exploring while her father curates an upcoming exhibit. In the process of investigating the museum’s various treasures, she discovers a locked room on the third floor and the start of an adventure.

Behind the door is a boy who claims to be the prisoner of the Snow Queen. Though he appears no more than 11 years old, the Marvelous Boy explains that he has been locked away for centuries. The museum’s Wintertide Clock is counting down the remaining days of his protective charm. Time is also running out to find the One Other who can help him save the world. The boy’s only defense against the Snow Queen is a magical sword lost somewhere in the museum.

Planting her precocious heroine in the middle of a fairy tale, Karen Foxlee shows that a scientific mind can be enriched by imagination and intuition.

At first, Ophelia doubts the Marvelous Boy’s story. A member of the Children’s Science Society of Greater London, Ophelia prides herself on her scientific mind. What proof is there of the Snow Queen or magical enchantments? In spite of her belief in logic and reason, Ophelia agrees to help the Marvelous Boy. Along the way, she hears her mother’s voice offering guidance and reassurance.

Meanwhile, Alice is behaving like a typical teenager --- sulky and concerned with nothing besides her appearance. Preoccupied with his work, Ophelia’s father is equally oblivious. Ophelia is on her own, then, as she hunts for keys and clues, braving ghosts and terrifying creatures. Planting her precocious heroine in the middle of a fairy tale, Karen Foxlee shows that a scientific mind can be enriched by imagination and intuition.

Loosely inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s THE SNOW QUEEN and bearing a few similarities to Night at the Museum, Foxlee’s novel is both deeply elegiac and entertaining. The multi-layered narrative makes for a dynamic read. Even as Foxlee emulates the storyteller voice of familiar fables, OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY feels distinctive and new.

Reviewed by Emma Kantor on February 10, 2014

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
by Karen Foxlee

  • Publication Date: January 28, 2014
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0385753543
  • ISBN-13: 9780385753548