FOXLEE, Karen Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy Hot Key Books, 2014 228pp $14.95 ISBN 9781471403361 SCIS 1646965
The Marvellous Boy is fading away; after all, he is 303 years old. The protectorate of wizards sent the boy on a mission a long, long time ago, but to complete his task, he needs the help of the One Other. Enter the seemingly not-so-brave, bespectacled and asthmatic eleven-year-old Ophelia.
Karen Foxlee’s suspenseful tale is told through the alternating voices of the boy and Ophelia. The story moves back and forth in time, slowly revealing the way in which the boy’s past connects with Ophelia’s present. Ophelia, with her curator father and would-be fashionista sister, is visiting a strange museum in a cold city where it always snows. The museum is presided over by Miss Kaminski. (Alert readers will quickly realise that the frosty Miss Kaminski is, in fact, the Snow Queen of the boy’s past. If they are familiar with the Chronicles of Narnia, they will also notice a nod to C. S. Lewis’s White Witch in the Snow Queen’s seductive modus operandi.)
Foxlee juxtaposes the boy’s magical mission with Ophelia’s pre-disposition to science and logic. Although both perspectives are given credence, it is the heart’s magic, not cold logic, that wins the day. Recommended for independent readers aged 9+.
reviewed by Tessa Wooldridge