Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy (2014)

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boys. Karen Foxlee. 2014. Random House. 240 books. [Source: Review copy]

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is a fantasy novel. The prologue introduces readers to the Marvelous Boy. He has been stripped of his name by the three wizards who sent him to face off with the Snow Queen. In the prologue, the Snow Queen appears to have won. She has convinced the King that the Marvelous Boy should be kept on display as an oddity, a unique possession, but possession all the same. He'll be paraded out once a year, perhaps. The King, if he was ever strong before the Snow Queen arrived, has been weak and pathetic since her arrival in his kingdom. He agrees, of course. The Marvelous Boy enters his prison, and there he remains never aging for THREE HUNDRED YEARS.

The novel opens three hundred years later. Alice and Ophelia are the daughters of a man hired to be the new curator of a unique exhibit that is due to open in just a few days. All three are grieving, but, showing it in different ways. Ophelia is our heroine. In the first chapter, she stumbles across the Marvelous Boy in his prison. He asks her to save the world. She is stunned. She is not hero material. She just isn't. She doesn't even believe in stories like that. How on earth could the Snow Queen be real? He asks her to help him one baby step at a time. He reveals his story bit by bit, never giving her more than she can handle. Slowly, Ophelia begins to believe and by the end, she's frantic to save him and the whole world too.

If the novel has a strength, it is in establishing the creepiness of the setting. The odd rooms, the creepy collection, the secrets and dangers. Ophelia has several tasks before her. Each one gives the author the opportunity to create in detail spooky suspenseful scenes. The one that comes to mind easiest is the room of ghosts that she must pass through. These ghosts are story-hungry, and they want Ophelia to give them lots and lots of personal stories to feed their need.

If the novel has a weakness, it is perhaps in the characterization. I didn't feel this was a character-driven novel. I didn't really feel a connection to Ophelia herself. I was curious about the outcome, of course, and I was interested in details about the Marvelous Boy. But I never found myself falling in love with the book itself.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Caroline said...

I saw this recommended somewhere and was really curious to find out what it's all about. It sounds good and not so good at the same time. I love fairy tale retellings or new twists on fairy tales but I like to be able to care for a character too.