Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee is a magical wintery fantasy featuring a nameless, ageless child and an evil Snow Queen.

Ophelia would say she's not very brave. Mostly, she feels broken inside because her mother died three months ago. Ophelia's mother was the one who dreamed and wrote of adventure and heroines and danger. Now, Ophelia's father, an international sword expert, has taken Ophelia and her older sister Alice with him to a museum in a strange city, where he is arranging an exhibition of swords from around the world. While her father works, Ophelia wanders the mysterious halls and galleries of the museum. Tucked away in the far reaches of the building, she discovers a keyhole, and on the other side of the keyhole is a boy without a name, who says he's been locked away for hundreds of years. He asks Ophelia to rescue him, but it will be dangerous: a quest fraught with ghosts and monsters and magic, and Ophelia doesn't believe in any of those things. (Well, she's withholding judgment about the ghosts.) And she doesn't have much time, because the Wintertide Clock will chime in three days -- and when it does, the world will end. If you believe the Marvelous Boy, that is. Which Ophelia doesn't . . . at least, not yet.

I found this story engrossing. It's the sort of book that draws you into its atmosphere, until you are almost surprised to find yourself not surrounded by snow or wandering through endless corridors of mysterious displays. It's a bit predictable, but the story is less about figuring out who the Snow Queen is, and more about watching Ophelia discover that she is stronger and braver than she knows. For that, I recommend it -- though if you can wait, read it in the winter, or at least at a time when you are longing for winter!

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

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