Reading Level: Middle Grade
Length: 240 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: ARC from Amazon Vine
Rating: 5/5 stars
I really enjoyed Karen Foxlee’s young adult book, The Midnight Dress, so when I heard she was writing a middle grade novel that was a fairy tale retelling I was so excited to read it. I got a copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. It ended up being a very good retelling of the Snow Queen, the writing is beautiful and very atmospheric.
Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard and her sister, Alice, are still grieving the death of their mother when their father decides to take a job prepping a museum for a sword exhibition in a strange city where it always snows. The museum is dark and has some fabulous nooks and crannies to explore. While Alice is drawn in by the owner of the museum, a very elegant yet strange women….Ophelia is drawn to explore the dark corridors of the museum.
One day while peeking in an eye hole, she finds an eye peeking back at her. This is how she meets The Marvelous Boy, who has been trapped by the Snow Queen in this room for 75 years. He convinces Ophelia to go on a number of adventures throughout the museum all in an effort to find a magical sword and to save the world from the clutches of the Snow Queen.
I absolutely adored this book. The writing is beautiful and magical, and the story has such a great dark fairy tale type of atmosphere. It was a very well done retelling of the Snow Queen.
The whole book takes place in an old museum. I love books like this. The old museum is so magical and the enchanting things Ophelia finds within the museum are bewitching and so creative. I love books where people explore something that at first seems mundan, but then ends up containing many marvelous wonders.
The story is done in a wonderful way. Some parts of the book are told from Ophelia’s perspective during the current day. There are also other parts of the book where the Marvelous Boy tells Opehlia the magical stories that make up his past. Both perspectives are very engaging and I found myself looking forward to them equally.
At first Ophelia is reluctant to help, she doesn’t believe in magic. Ophelia is strictly a science type of girl, her mother was the fanciful one and the death of her mother has only solidified Ophelia’s commitment to facts and science. But as the Boy tells his tale, Ophelia is drawn in and can’t help but be curious. She ends up doing small quests for the Marvelous Boy in order to hear the next portions of his story and it is in this way Ophelia confronts her fears and accomplishes some truly marvelous things on her own.
The book wraps up nicely and has some nice discussion around the importance of friends and family. The writing is beautiful and was wonderful to read. My only complaint is that the story is fairly predictable. I knew right away who the Snow Queen was and how she was tied in with the sword exhibition at the museum.
Overall I loved this book, the story is engaging and beautifully written. The pictures throughout are magical. It was just an absolutely wonderful fairy tale retelling. Recommended for readers of all ages, especially for those who love wonderful fairy tale retellings. I look forward to what Foxlee writes next.