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Book Reviews Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy

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Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy

Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy is the new release from talented author Karen Foxlee. Hot on the heels of her much applauded The Midnight Dress, this latest novel is the perfect chapter book for readers aged 10+, who are looking for a great adventure.

Karen Foxlee opens her novel with a lyrical, fairytale like chapter recounting a legend which has far reaching consequences on the present day …

Meet Ophelia and her family, still reeling from the death of their mother. Older sister Alice spends her time ‘playing gloomy music and thinking gloomy thoughts’, their father is ‘far too busy’ with his work, and Ophelia can tell at any given point, exactly, how long it has been since her mum died. 

It is three days before Christmas Eve (isn’t that just the perfect magical, mysterious setting?) and all three of them are in ‘a foreign city’, in a huge museum accompanying their father, Mr Malcolm Whittard, as he feverishly prepares a very important sword exhibit.

Ophelia’s explorations of the museum lead her through rooms ‘filled with teaspoons’, some containing ‘only telephones’ and then … to a small locked door, behind which is a 10 year old boy. He claims to have been there for quite some time. 

‘I need your help,’ the boy said, ‘to save the world.’

Oh no! 11 year old Ophelia is quite clearly not hero material … or so she has convinced herself, and quite frankly this little boy’s declaration has ‘made her cross.’ Ophelia ‘did not consider herself brave.’ She has ‘knock-knees’, is ‘rather small for her age’ and suffers from ‘very bad asthma’

As for the boy’s tale of Snow Queens, wizards and magic …. well to be honest ‘she didn’t believe him’. It’s hardly scientific and things that can’t be classified and pigeonholed ‘made her feel terrible.’

From this point Foxlee leads her readers through a wonderful adventure, as poor Ophelia must push against all her instincts. During the course of the next three days she has to scour the museum for 3 secret keys, and face things that she really didn’t believe existed. 

Ultimately, … it really is a race against time, as Foxlee creates an adventure which marches confidently to a huge conclusion in which Ophelia must face the Snow Queen she doesn’t believe in.

I adore the way Ophelia is a character who grows and develops considerably throughout Foxlee’s narrative.

The titles to each of the chapters are a great touch. Not only do they contain whispers of a more traditional format, they also highlight Ophelia’s personal journey. Underlying it all is her growing acceptance of her mother’s death. 

Ophelia is the perfect introduction for those children who haven’t yet felt the pull towards fantasy literature.


Because Ophelia would whole heartedly agrees with them! Well, until she meets the marvellous boy that is!

Discover the Karen's inspiration behind Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy by reading our interview here.

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Publisher Blurb
Eleven-year-old Ophelia might not be brave, but she certainly is curious. Her family are still reeling from her mother's death, and in a bid to cheer everyone up, her father has taken a job at a...

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