Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
Ophelia and Marvelous Boy
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Karen Foxlee
ISBN 9780385753548
Knopf/Random House, 2014.
5 stars
Keywords: family friendship grief hans-christian-andersen karen-foxlee ophelia-and-marvelous-boy snow-queen

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
by Karen Foxlee

In this captivatingly original variation on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," Karen Foxlee (The Anatomy of Wings) threads themes of grief, friendship and faith into a suspenseful adventure in a cavernous museum.

A Boy, wrenched from his family to fulfill a prophecy from the wizards in his homeland, travels on a quest to a distant kingdom to save his people from the Snow Queen. Armed with a rudimentary sword, he can vanquish the powerful Queen, who turns everything to ice, from majestic trees to human hearts. A magical owl's charm helps the Boy on his journey to the faraway land, where he befriends a child King. The owl's charm, however, causes the Boy to remain a child, while the King ages. The monarch names his friend his Marvelous Boy, yet neglects him when a beautiful and mysterious woman arrives. The King marries her, and as his land turns to snow and ice, his Queen convinces him to imprison the Boy.

Now nearly 300 years later, 11-year-old Ophelia comes upon the Boy in a museum where her father, a sword expert, assembles an exhibit scheduled to open on Christmas Eve, just three days away--also the deadline for the Marvelous Boy to defeat the Queen. Foxlee creates in Ophelia a practical, logical heroine. Curiosity leads Ophelia to room 303. "Who are you?" a startled Ophelia asks the Boy locked behind a door. " 'I don't have a name,' said the voice. 'It was taken from me by a protectorate of wizards from the east, west, and middle to keep me safe.' " Ophelia replies, "But I don't believe in wizards."

Foxlee wisely equates the Boy's grief at the possibility of the destruction of the world--if they do not defeat the Queen in time--with the grief for Ophelia's recently deceased mother that threatens to destroy her family. Through Ophelia's friendship with the Boy, they both begin to heal. Splendid.

This review is adapted from a longer version in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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