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Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

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A modern-day fairy tale set in a mysterious museum that is perfect for readers of Roald Dahl and Blue Balliett.

Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia's help.

As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy's own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.

233 pages, Hardcover

First published February 6, 2014

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About the author

Karen Foxlee

17 books226 followers
Karen Foxlee is an Australian author who lives and writes in Queensland. Her young adult novels The Anatomy of Wings (UQP/Knopf/Atlantic) and The Midnight Dress (Knopf/UQP/Hot Key Books) have been published internationally to much acclaim. The Anatomy of Wings won the Commonwealth Writers Prize Best First Book 2008 (South Asia/Pacific), the Dobbie Award 2008, and a Parent’s Choice Gold Award in the U.S. The Midnight Dress was selected as an ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults title in 2014. Foxlee’s first middle grade novel Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy (Knopf / Hot Key Books) was published in January 2014 and to date has received several starred reviews.

Karen Foxlee was born in Mount Isa, Queensland in 1971. She has worked most of her adult life as a registered nurse, has a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a major in creative writing, and lives in Gympie, Australia.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,111 reviews
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,574 reviews5,904 followers
January 3, 2014
This book is geared toward middle school aged kids. Guess what? I may be aging in reverse because I totally liked it.
The story starts in a museum. Ophelia, her sister Alice and her dad are there for the dad's job. He is an expert on old swords of all kinds. Ophelia just can't sit still and begins to wander the museum. She comes upon a door that is locked and can't help but look through the keyhole. She discovers a boy locked away. He tells her that he has been locked up by an Evil Snow Queen and that wizards have taken his name from him. Miss Ophelia thinks at first he is a crock. As the story goes on-he convinces her that she is going to help him save the world. She is an amazing little character. A strong little girl who takes nothing at face value. This girl is going to question everything she is told and you best have a good answer for her. She's that young girl who drags her jeans out of the dirty clothes, has smudges on her glasses, her ponytails are always crooked and she does not wear dresses. In other words this girl just totally rocks.
The museum is perfectly creepy with creatures coming to life at the right times and weird rooms that no one goes to. This books strongest characters are all female and I do like that.
Profile Image for ✦BookishlyRichie✦.
639 reviews1,038 followers
December 14, 2019
The first 50 pages of this was really good but then it just went downhill and became incredibly boring. I really thought I was going to love this one. Oh well lol I'd still recommend it if you're looking for a quick winter middle-grade read. :)
Profile Image for Tori.
285 reviews6 followers
August 10, 2017
Check out YA Book Queens!

NOTE: I won this ARC in a giveaway, and Random House mailed it to my house in exchange for an honest review!

Honestly, I have been avoiding writing this review. I finished reading Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy today at lunch (yes, I read at school. I am well aware that that makes me a book nerd), and my friends were telling me to calm down because I was freaking out over the ending.

I haven't read any other reviews yet because I don't want someone else's thoughts and opinions to infiltrate my review, but from what skim reading I did on some reviews I don't think I saw anyone talk about how the ending was stupefying. I can truly say that I don't know if what happened was real or not. I'm not going to spoil anything, but the end just doesn't really tell you whether or not Ophelia imagined all of the events with the Marvelous Boy or if they really happened. I honestly liked this part of the book; it made me question everything that happened in the book.

But I've been dreading this review, because I'm not quite sure what I thought of the book overall. That's why it's getting my default three stars.

First thing's first: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy did not read like a children's fiction book or even a middle grade book. I've read Percy Jackson. I know what middle grade sounds like. This book is not it. Foxlee's writing is just so marvelous (to be punny), and quite frankly it's a beautiful prose. There's a certain finesse to her writing style that makes me just want to read more, if not for the story but for the writing.

Second thing, although the writing wowed me, the story line did not. I will admit it was interesting enough, but it didn't instantly grab me. It's similar to Narnia with the Snow Queen and magical sword and immortal children (are immortal children in Narnia?). This didn't bother me all that much, but I definitely noticed it. My friends read the back of the book and agreed.

Also, I wasn't too fond of the Marvelous Boy's flashbacks. At first they were funny, insightful, and I liked them, but as the book drug along, I didn't quite feel as enthralled. I think they started to become less adventurous and more like info-dumping.

I don't read much middle grade, so I'm not sure if the predictability of the genre is apparent in all the books, but this book was way too predictable. Painfully predictable, even. The true identity of the Snow Queen at the end of the novel is revealed as if it was a big secret all along when I had guessed it the first time the Snow Queen made an appearance in the book. Also, the "plot twists" weren't all that twisty, so to speak.

Before this review gets too lengthy, I just want to add that I didn't dislike this book, hence the three stars. It was enjoyable to me. I think that if the story was longer and we, the readers, had more time to connect with the character that we wouldn've been more emotionally invested in their lives and cared more for how things played out in the end. The most invested I got was at the end when the big secret on the Marvelous Boy's name ISN'T REVEALED and when I don't know whether or not the Marvelous Boy was even real to begin with.

In conclusion, Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy isn't one of my most highly recommended books, but I do not regret reading it. I already got one of my friends to read it when it hits shelves tomorrow. This book would most likely be enjoyed by people who like short, adventure/fantasy books.
Profile Image for Monica Edinger.
Author 10 books336 followers
February 6, 2014
Poking around Netgalley I came across Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy and, intrigued by the description, began reading it and was quickly hooked. It is a lovely, moody contemporary reworking of Anderson’s “The Snow Queen” set in a museum, no less. I find books set in museum to be tricky things — sometimes the setting seems more important than the rest of it. Fortunately, in this case, it totally works. Our heroine, Ophelia, has arrived in the never-identified city with her older sister while their father works on a blockbuster exhibit of swords. They are all mourning the loss of the family’s mother in their own ways: the father throws himself into work, the older sister becomes eagerly distracted by the exhibit’s fashionable female curator, and Ophelia gloomily wanders the museum, counting the days and hours since her mother’s death. In her wanderings she comes across the Marvelous Boy of the title and so her adventure begins. Ophelia is a winning heroine as she fights fear to do what needs to be done (just…you know..saving the world and stuff), the Boy sad and stalwart (his own back story meanders through the larger story taking place in the museum), the writing elegant, and the plot compelling. There are creepy creatures, ghosts, a deliciously evil villain, magical things, and plenty more to keep middle grade readers engrossed.

Recently the publisher sent me a print ARC along with a key and a tiny tube of super glue (a particularly clever, if for those who haven’t yet read the book, especially enigmatic touch), all of which made me smile.
Profile Image for Kate Forsyth.
Author 88 books2,316 followers
August 22, 2014
I really loved Karen’s mysterious and beautiful novel The Midnight Dress, and once I heard Karen speak about her new book Ophelia & the Marvellous Boy I knew at once that it sounded like my kind of book. I bought the gorgeous hard-back in London, and am glad that I did as the production is just exquisite.
The story revolves around eleven-year-old Ophelia who is smart and scientifically minded. She and her sister and father have moved to a city where it never stops snowing, as her father – who is an expert on swords – has taken up a position in a huge, dark, gothic museum filled with secrets and strange things. Ophelia sets out to explore, and finds a locked room hidden away in the depths of the museum. She puts her eyes to the keyhole … and sees a boy’s blue eyes looking out at her. He tells her that he has been a prisoner for three-hundred-and-three-years by an evil Snow Queen and her clock is ticking down towards the end of the world. Only he can stop her … but first he must escape.

A gorgeously written and delicate fairy tale, Ophelia & the Marvellous Boy reminded me of some of my favourite children’s writers such as Cassandra Golds and Laura Amy Schlitz, who are themselves inspired by Nicholas Stuart Grey and George Macdonald.
Profile Image for Donalyn.
Author 8 books5,911 followers
February 2, 2014
A beautiful book that I would have adored as a child. There were a few pacing issues at the end, but this might have been my childish wish for the book to go on... "The trouble with magic was that it was messy and dangerous and filled with longing. There were too many moments that made your heart stop and ache and start again (p. 186)."

A magical book.
Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,602 reviews2,044 followers
July 19, 2017
I have not done goodreads reviews of the books I've read aloud to my kids, which is an omission I need to correct. Especially because I feel like a lot of adults review kids' books without having a simultaneous kid's experience to consider. I get my own enjoyment (and I think it's best for adults to enjoy middle grade and younger chapter books by reading them aloud) and I get to see how the kids respond.

This book was a huge hit, and I wasn't sure it would be. It took us over a month to read (we only get 3-4 reading nights a week) and early on I thought it might be too slow. The setting is an unusual museum and the author really gets into it, and in the early chapters it can feel like the setting is overwhelming the action. But when you read aloud you can really relish the way she chooses words and all the strange little rooms she describes. For adults reading aloud you'll find much to enjoy, this is definitely one of my very favorites in the years we've been reading aloud.

Once we were about 2/3 of the way through, my 8-year-old was HOOKED. Always wanting to read another chapter, wanting to get more pages. Clearly he was paying attention even in the early, slower sections and was invested in the characters.

I don't really get the criticism here where people trash the book for not being a cool enough retelling of the Snow Queen. The fact that it involves a kind of Snow Queen story is the least interesting thing about it. If you get caught up in that you've missed the whole thing that the book is. It's drastically different from that story and if you removed any Snow Queen references it would still work on its own beautifully. I enjoyed not connecting it back to that fairy tale and saw it more as homage than retelling.

If you are looking for more books about girls to read to boys, this is a great one to add if your kid can be patient enough to get through the slower parts early on. (Note: there is a dead mother, referenced regularly.)
Profile Image for Shannon .
1,221 reviews2,162 followers
January 19, 2014
It has been three months, seven days and nine hours since Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard's mother died. Susan Worthington was a prolific horror writer who died young, and Ophelia, her older sister Alice and their father, Malcolm Whittard, are still grieving.

In an effort to help them recover and give them a chance of scenery, Ophelia's father accepts a last-minute posting to a museum in another country to finish setting up the greatest-ever exhibition of swords. Malcolm Whittard is, according to his business card, the "leading international expert on swords", but with only three days to go before the opening of the exhibition on Christmas Eve, it's a demanding job that takes up all his time.

Alice seems content to sit and brood, but Ophelia spends the time exploring the museum. It is a cold place, in a city caught up in a perpetual winter, and the museum is a weird and wonderful place. The guards in each room are old ladies with black handbags who spend most of their time knitting or sleeping, so Ophelia is free to wander into parts of the museum she isn't allowed to be in. It is during her exploration that she encounters a peculiar room, with a little door and a big keyhole through which is the eye of a boy, staring back at her.

The boy, who was dubbed "the marvellous boy", has been alive for over three hundred years. He was sent here on a mission by the wizards of east, west and middle, who took his name to keep him safe. He no longer remembers it. They gave him a sword, a relatively plain and heavy sword with a carving of a closed eye near the hilt, and certain instructions. He was to find the "One Other" and give them the sword, with which they would defeat the evil Snow Queen.

The Snow Queen was unable to kill him because of the protective spell on him which also prevents him from ageing and dying, and so she had him locked up here in the museum, and the sword taken away. She need only wait out the time of his protection spell, then she can kill him and be free to take over more of the world, as she did to his homeland and this place, where she has reigned ever since.

Ophelia, unlike her mother, is not prone to fantastical flights of the imagination. She is a member of the Children's Science Society of Greater London and believes in logic and reason and science. But little by little, she finds herself on small but dangerous missions to find the key to his room, to set him free and find his sword before the Wintertide Clock strikes on Christmas Eve and the Snow Queen's plan comes to fruition. But Ophelia is only eleven, she's not courageous and relies heavily on her asthma inhaler. She's a little girl up against a frightening woman, with only the whispered words of comfort from her mother for encouragement.

In her search for the hidden key and the missing sword, Ophelia might just find her hidden courage, and save her sister, her father and the world.

I don't read enough of stories like this one; or rather, I don't make enough time to read stories like this one, which is a sad mistake. Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy was utterly wonderful, a delightful story of adventure, danger, loss, grief, wizards who think a lot, deception, sibling love, resilience, courage and the classic fight between good and evil. It is fantasy in the tradition of the Chronicles of Narnia and similar works, a children's story that will engage and entertain readers of all ages, an old-fashioned tale given new life.

Ophelia is a timid and sensible girl, and the request made of her by the Marvellous Boy requires her to not just be brave, but to put aside all things rational, suspend disbelief and trust the word of a strange boy who claims to be several centuries old. The more involved she becomes, the more danger she is placed in, and the more her old certainties come crumbling down. She doesn't become a new person, or a vastly different person, she simply becomes her full potential as Ophelia. She's a great protagonist, suffering through the classic coming-of-age trial-by-fire that fantasy stories are best known for.

Wizards, [Ophelia] thought, when she gained her composure. What good were they if they couldn't tell you how to do stuff, if they were always talking in riddles and saying they knew everything before it even happened? It wasn't very helpful.

If she were a wizard, she'd write reports for people. She'd make sure everything was very clear. She'd write, Looking for a magical sword? No problem. Go to the fifth floor, turn left, open a large wooden chest, et cetera, et cetera. She'd have check boxes. Found your magical sword? Place X here.

The Marvellous Boy himself remains something of an enigma, and a sad one at that. He tells Ophelia his story in segments, and the vivid rendering of his life before being locked in the little room really brings him to life. He is quite clearly something of a sacrificial lamb, a boy hand-picked by the wizards who must sacrifice everything with little say in the matter. As such, he is an infinitely sympathetic character, a little boy lost who stays calm and friendly and positive in the wake of dire circumstances. I felt so sad for him, but also proud. Foxlee deftly captures the characters and their motivations within the confines of the fantasy formula, a fantasy that is none too clear about place and time. Any apparent plot holes - a never-ending winter somehow sustaining a human population, never mind the trees, is hardly believable - simply don't get in the way of the story. Such is the strength of Foxlee's writing, that it all comes together and works, much like a fairy tale still carries the strength of its own conviction despite the fact that the details don't really make sense.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy oozes atmosphere and tension, suspense and the thrilling bite of danger. Among it lies the fragile workings of family dynamics and confused love, vulnerable to the atmosphere, which makes it all the more precious. While Ophelia is off exploring and adventuring, fifteen-year-old Alice is being lured in by the museum curator, Miss Kaminski, who gives her princess dresses and flattery and helps drive a wedge between the two sisters while also flirting with their father. Miss Kaminski - and it's no spoiler to say this - is the true enemy. Beautiful and elegant but infinitely cold, Ophelia sees glimpses of the woman's true self but is too young to understand it.

While the overall plot is as predictable as any fairy tale-fantasy story - whether or not you have ever read "The Snow Queen" fairy tale (which I have not, strange to say, though I don't think there are all that many similarities really), this story does follow a fairly standard fantasy formula - the story is brimming with imagination and you never really know what's going to happen next, or how things will play out. The writing is strong and near-perfect, the pacing fluid and smooth and not too fast, and the characters fleshed-out nicely. I grew quite attached to Ophelia, and the Marvellous Boy, and welcomed the satisfying conclusion. With such rich detail and atmosphere and action, the story played out like a movie in my head, and I can easily see this being adapted to film one day. It would be a costume- and set-designer's dream come true, to bring this magical story visually to life. As it was, my humble imagination did a pretty good job of it!

My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book via Netgalley. Please note that passages quoted here may appear differently in the finished book.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
Author 69 books971 followers
October 21, 2017
Ohhhh. This book is just ASTONISHINGLY good. The title/cover never grabbed me when it first came out, but when I asked on a private author-group for recommendations of an MG fantasy novel that felt really magical and also really emotional and heartfelt, this was recommended to me - and the moment I tried the opening of the book, I was spellcaught.

This is by far the most breathtakingly beautiful and truly magical MG fantasy novel that I've read in *years*. It's full of grief and hope and bravery and enchantment, with a boy who's tried so hard for so many years to do what is right, and a girl who is sensible and clever and scientific, who has asthma and knows she should probably avoid frights - and who turns out to be full of so much courage. It's set in a huge and cluttered museum full of wonders and terrors, misery birds and ghosts and a clock counting down to the end of the world. There were scenes I could barely stand to read because the emotions felt SO intense or what was happening was SO creepy/frightening - but I always came back because I LOVED it. As a magical winter fairytale, it is crystalline and perfect and full of love.

I read a library copy of the book, but I will DEFINITELY be buying a copy of my own.

As a writer, this book inspired me so much. As a reader, I fell head-over-heels in love with it. HIGHLY recommended!
Profile Image for Wanda.
629 reviews
January 18, 2014
23 DEC 2013 - I was invited via pre-approval from the publisher through NetGalley to review this book. I am deeply appreciative of this invitation and am looking forward to this fun read. I will read this one closer to the publication date if 28 JAN 2014. If I read it sooner, I will forget what I have read.

15 JAN 2013 --“And you might think a name is just a name, nothing but a word, but that is not the case. Your name is tacked to you. Where it has joined you, it has seeped into your skin and into your essence and into your soul. So when they plucked my name from me with their spell, it was as heavy as a rock in their hands but as invisible as the wind, and it wasn't just the memory of my name, but me myself. A tiny part of me that they took and stored away." This brought tears to my eyes.

18 JAN 2014 - I loved this book. Within the pages are ghosts, wondrous creatures, and a little girl who is not so sure of herself yet is willing to do what she knows is right. The storyline will hold middle graders captive and allow them to share in Ophelia's and the Marvelous Boy's quest to defeat the Evil Snow Queen. Outstanding writing and fully realized characters are the hallmarks of great things to come from Ms. Foxlee. I, for one, will seek out and read more by this author.

P.S. If you do not have children, borrow your neighbors, nieces, and/or nephews. This story deserves to be read aloud with and to children. Really!

P.P.S. Do you see that quote above about your name and having it taken away? Well, this book is filled with this type of wonderful writing. Without being preachy, I believe this book has the ability to teach children to reach down inside themselves, bring out their inner strength/confidence in the face of adversity, and do what is right. Children know right from wrong and given the opportunity, will always err on the side of right. This book gives them the confidence to do so.
Profile Image for Sonja P..
1,698 reviews4 followers
August 3, 2014
I really, really liked this. this reminded me of Liesl and Po and Wildwood, in the best possible way. Definitely recommend it.
Profile Image for Jenny / Wondrous Reads.
467 reviews75 followers
January 24, 2014
Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy is one of the best middle grade books I've read for a long time. It's a modern day fairytale, a retelling of the Snow Queen, and is set in a museum in an unidentified country where there's lots of snow and ice cold weather. It reminded me of The Chronicles of Narnia, in part because of the snow-covered locations but mainly because of the magic that floated off the pages.

Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard is a fantastic character to carry this story. She's brave, courageous and intelligent for her young years and, like her father and sister, is still racked with grief over the death of her mother. She continually counts how long it's been since she died, and has also noticed a change in the rest of her family: her dad is obsessed with work (he's a sword expert, moving the whole family to the museum for an exhibition) and her sister is trying to grow up before she's ready. Ophelia doesn't believe anything that can't be proved by science or logic, until one day when she meets a boy locked in a room and embarks on an adventure that will change her life.

The Marvellous Boy has been imprisoned by the Snow Queen for years and years, being under-fed and forgotten about. He doesn't know his name because the wizards took it off him three hundred and three years ago, but it's safe and one day he'll get it back. Ophelia is the only person who can help him, the only person who has found him and takes him seriously and, after much coercion, she sets off to retrieve some very important keys. The Marvellous Boy is also a brilliant character to meet and read about, but it's nice to see the girls take centre stage for a while. He and Ophelia make a great team, and his story made me choke up at the end. Is just so lovely!

This book took me by surprise. I had no idea I'd love it so much, but I did. So much in fact that I've ordered a finished copy! It's not just a fairytale, though Karen Foxlee does that element very well, it's also a heartwarming story about love, loss, grief and the importance of family. It's about carrying on and doing what you must, helping those in need and realising that just because someone's gone doesn't mean they'll ever leave you. Ophelia learns this through the help of the Marvellous Boy; through her sadness and broken heart. I don't have one single bad thing to say about Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy - it's perfect for readers aged 8-12 and for me it's an instant classic. I can't wait to read it again and relive the magic!
January 12, 2021
Wow what a magical, thrilling read. So atmospheric, & full of heart. This is another book I’ve read recently that involves the Snow Queen-I really need to read the original lol. This was amazing. This is modern day. Ophelia doesn’t believe in anything that can’t be proven by science. Her dad, sister, & her are still grieving her moms death from only a few months before. There dad takes a job in another city where it always snows. It’s at a museum, & there’s a deadline for a sword exhibit type thing. Her dad is a sword expert. The 1st day she meets a boy locked in a room in the museum-by the Snow Queen. He’s been waiting for Ophelia to help him. So she embarks on this amazing quest to save him, & along the way everything she believes, & DOESN’T believe in, will be tested. It’s a story w/n a story in ways, b/c along her mission throughout the book to save him, he tells her more & more about his journey to her & saving the world. The museum is creepy, & cold & described in such vivid detail my teeth were almost chattering. Things aren’t always what they seem. Things come to life, there are ghosts, scary machines, & creepy monsters hidden in rooms. Things move around not always being where it seems they were before. This is a great story of bravery, dealing w/a terrible loss & the heavy grief of it, but never giving up. The power of friendship, love, hope, & believing in yourself & others. The boy has tried so long, & given up so much to do good, & the right thing. You just want to see him succeed. Ophelia too. I so badly wanted to hug her tell her it would be ok. Time doesn’t take away the pain, but it does get to a place where you don’t have to force yourself to get up & go on. I loved her. Such a beautiful story/writing. & the whisperer in her ear-loved that. Highly recommend. Absolutely gorgeous cover too by Yoko Tanaka. Front & back-stunning beautiful & atmospheric..perfect representation of the story inside.💜
Profile Image for Dana.
416 reviews
May 28, 2018
This was a cute book, although a bit predictable for me. I think middle schoolers would enjoy this though, especially girls who enjoy an adventure/fantasy story. Ophelia finds a young boy being held as prisoner in a museum. He was prophesied to be the one to save he world from the Snow Queen. He has to find the Other One, the one who has the power to kill the Snow Queen.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
282 reviews4 followers
March 9, 2017
Wow, am I disappointed. I had this on my Really Excited For shelf, and for the life of me I don't know why. It took me a week and a half to read this, it only had 228 pages! I could have read it in a day or two, if it hadn't been so boring, and it wasn't the only book I had with me over a weekend away from home. =/

I didn't like the story, I didn't like the characters. I don't think I like books in museums, despite the magical qualities they can possess. The story takes place in an unidentified foreign city (London?) in an unidentified era, which really kept throwing me off. I just assumed while reading it took place in older, maybe Victorian times, and then something like headphones or a phone would briefly be mentioned and it would throw me off completely. But then no mention of computers or a cataloging system for the swords? You need a concrete era for your story!

Ophelia was an unlikable character. I didn't like her cold scientific side, always having to calculate everything. I like my magical realism book characters to believe in a little bit of magic. Maybe that's a me thing. Alice was awkwardly groomed to be the sacrifice, but where was the story behind that? Just to give Ophelia a reason to continue helping the Boy? He was an alright character, he had a backstory, but I wasn't interested or emotionally invested in it at all. Losing a finger to be protected by an owl charm? -_- The "story within a story" concept could have been executed better, I found the breaks between Ophelia and the Boy hard to understand, and sometimes hard to discern between the two.

It was sad that the family has lost the mother, and she came in halfway through to start feeding Ophelia advice from beyond the grave, which was odd. Along with the constant counting of exactly how long her mother had been gone, which added nothing to the story. And the emotional scene between Ophelia and her father about missing their mother seemed out of nowhere, with no lead up to it except for "dad has thrown himself into his work and doesn't talk about mom," which I understand would be difficult, but didn't seem like a story plot point besides him always writing off Ophelia and what she had to say about what was going on. But that seems to be the norm for stories like this.

It was glaring obviously that the caretaker was the Snow Queen, but maybe because this is a middle grade novel? I don't know. The Boy just disappearing in the end!? And the family goes back to where they came from and everything is fine again? I don't know.

I feel like there were a lot of things going on for a book so short, and they weren't dealt with or handled properly. Too many story lines, too many things going on with characters that didn't need to be told. I wasn't satisfied at all. Everything about this rubbed me the wrong way, and I really struggled to finish it. I'm hoping the next book I read by Karen Foxlee I'll like a lot better.

"She said it very pleasantly, as though she were talking about marshmallows or afternoon tea."

"Ophelia didn't consider herself brave, but she was very curious. She was exactly the kind of girl who couldn't walk past a golden keyhole without looking inside."

"They can see the future in puddles and in dewdrops and sometimes even in shiny spoons."

"Anything is possible if you have a plan."

"Our stories make us strong."

"...before educating you in the ways of misery."

"She had expected magic to be simple and tidy, with people disappearing in puffs of smoke - not slowly, by degrees, in a lonely, aching way."

"She ran back up the stairs like someone about to miss a bus."

"The problem with magic was that it made her feel very alone."

"The voice was very deep and very low, and it reminded her of velvet and rolling waves."

"Something magical, from her sad place of frost and snow."
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Boze Herrington.
76 reviews522 followers
August 13, 2018
Delightfully original story about a girl battling the Snow Queen and Spanish conquistadors in a museum, though "A Most Magical Girl" is still my favourite of her books.
Profile Image for Tifany.
564 reviews10 followers
June 9, 2020

please be aware that :
• english is not my first language
• this review was written on feb 6th, 2015 by my 16-year-old self

I wasn't interested at the book at first. I added it on my TBR-Goodreads list, but I never look for the book. And then, I don't know why but I feel like "What if I search the ebook version of it?". I'm trying to search it then. And guess what?! I got it! I got the ebook! After that, I download a reader app and read it!

The story is about (don't worry, it doesn't contain any spoiler) a girl named Ophelia who lived with her father & sister. One day, her father needs to prepare for a big event and he also brought her daughter to where he work. Ophelia meets someone there and she (need to) should help him. Something big will going to happen and if Ophelia didn't help him, another bad thing will come. So, if you really wanted to know about it, you have to read it by yourself, lol sorry!

For me, I love the book so much! The story-plot was going great and also the character. I found a lot of quotes that I like the most. Here they are :

"Your name is tacked to you. Where it has joined you, it has seeped into your skin and into your essence and into your soul."

"I would like to leave the forest, just for a minute and run in the light without fear."

"You don't have to be her mother, but you have to look out for her. This is, above everything else, what I need you to do."

"You should never give up on a disappearing boy. Disappearing boys need friends; it's the only thing keeping them alive."

"You may feel alone, but there will always be people who will help you along the way."

If you already read it, you must be know who are saying those all. Now, about the character, I love Ophelia so much. I feel really connected with her somehow, lol. She's really a nice little girl. She doesn't even know who's this strange boy that she met before but she help him out.

Anyway, I love guessing things when I read a book. So, when I read this, I was guessing all the time and I got it right all the time too, lol. Maybe the book and I are really connected, lol.

And now, I wanted to tell you guys that it's a really great book and I recommend it to all of you who likes fantasy books (I mean all of you who loves to read books). The story-plot is nice, the character are also fine, and the cover is kinda cute (well... who doesn't love cute cover?)
Profile Image for Sara Grochowski.
1,142 reviews567 followers
November 22, 2014
Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard, her sister, Alice, and their father, the world's leading expert on swords, leave home for a foreign city where it always snows. Ophelia's father has been hired to curate a museum exhibit and, while exploring the museum, a confusing, drafty place full of curiosities, Ophelia discovers an abandoned room. Within the room is a small door. On the other side of the door, is a boy. As you might expect, this is no ordinary boy, but a Marvelous Boy, the prisoner of the sinister Snow Queen. The Queen has kept him prisoner for near 300 years and he's been waiting for Ophelia. Only she can help him defeat the Queen... and time is running out. Scientifically-minded Ophelia must look within herself - and to the memory of mother - to find the magic she holds within herself. A gorgeous retelling of The Snow Queen and an unforgettable story about friendship, love, and grief, OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY is sure to be loved by readers of all ages.

Ophelia has much to overcome in her journey to defeat the Snow Queen. Not only must she brave Misery birds, ghosts, a cold museum director, and other sinister and fantastical beasts, she has to overcome the grief of the recent loss of her mother and her own leaning towards empirical truths. Ophelia's mother, even in death, has a lasting impact on Ophelia and her struggle to find magic and hope in the cold world of the Snow Queen. When she doubts herself or the Marvelous Boy, Ophelia looks to memories of her mother, a writer who was always ready to believe in fantastical and everyday magic. And, in time, she looks within herself, where she finds her mother is always present.

I adored the setting of OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY. Foxlee's words paint an amazingly detailed world full of wonder and, of course, magic. Not much is known about the city, except that it's always snowing there, but I couldn't help but imagine the museum was in a large Russian city. There are gorgeous black and white illustrations within the book by Yoko Tanaka that beautifully complement the text, giving readers a visual treat in addition to Foxlee's lyrical descriptions.

I urge you to read OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY, regardless of your age. Its magic will transport you, leaving you satisfied even as you mourn leaving Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy behind.
Profile Image for Betsy.
1,704 reviews65 followers
February 18, 2014
Review originally seen on RedeemedReader

Disney’s popular Frozen is a tale inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.” Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is also a retelling of “The Snow Queen.” No romance here as in Frozen, and the Snow Queen is back to her frosty, unyielding self. But Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is more than simply a Snow Queen story for middle grade readers; it is broader and more complex than Frozen.

Ophelia herself is a child of today, but the Marvelous Boy she discovers has been hidden away for roughly 300 years by the Snow Queen. Ophelia’s father, newly widowed and an international sword expert, has been summoned by an imperious woman to help with her upcoming sword exhibit which will take place in her old museum. Ophelia and her sister accompany their father in order to spend Christmas in the snowy North with him.

As Ophelia explores the museum, she discovers the Marvelous Boy and her own adventure begins in earnest. Telling too much more will unveil the plot, and that is part of the charm of this book. Foxlee plots the book tightly and, even when readers begin to recognize the ending that’s coming, the journey is still a great trip.

For those who enjoy fantasy that is more like an Arthurian tale with a famous sword, a magical person or two, but no dragons/witches/castles, this will be a great read. Ophelia is a refreshingly honest character; she is quite ordinary, quite stubborn, and immensely curious. Her reticence to even be a heroine is endearing. Good triumphs resoundingly over evil, and all is well just in the nick of time. While the Snow Queen remains a villain, the Marvelous Boy points to the same self-sacrifice we saw in Frozen; this time, the self-sacrifice doesn’t thaw a frosty heart, it saves the world. Both Frozen and Ophelia are great reminders of The Story in which Christ’s self-sacrifice thaws frosty hearts and saves the world.
Profile Image for Liviania.
957 reviews64 followers
February 5, 2014
Given that Frozen is tearing up the box office, I suspect that many kids now have some interest in Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen." It's the perfect moment for Karen Foxlee's modern retelling OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY to come out. And this was a wonderful book to curl up with on a cold day.

The Marvelous Boy was chosen by wizards to bear a sword and deliver it to the person who can defeat the Snow Queen. Ophelia is a young girl grieving over her mother's death and feeling ignored by her sister and father. (They are, of course, reacting to the mother's death in their own way and the book is very fair about this.) When Ophelia finds the Marvelous Boy, locked up for centuries by the Snow Queen, she reluctantly agrees to help free him and find his sword.

I've always enjoyed the way this story subverts standard gender roles and love that Foxlee kept that aspect. The Marvelous Boy is the damsel in distress and Ophelia is the hero who finds her courage to save the day. Of course, they can only do it by working together and trusting in each other, which is a nice message.

I thought OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY did a good job of updating the story without losing the fairytale charm. The Marvelous Boy tells Ophelia how he came to be trapped and his stories are basically pure fairytale style. Ophelia, meanwhile, lives in a fairly typical modern city - even if it does happen to snow all the time. But she's constantly in the museum where her father works and the Marvelous Boy is trapped, and a museum is a terrific setting for blending history and magic together. I liked the descriptions of the various exhibits; it sounded like a fun museum to visit.

I think OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY is a wonderful choice for middle grade readers. It deals with themes of grief, death, and change in a whimsical, light story. This would be a particularly good choice for kids who are slightly too young for Claire Legrand's THE YEAR OF SHADOWS.
Profile Image for Rob Slaven.
480 reviews53 followers
January 25, 2014
As usual I received this book for free just so I'd review it. Also as usual I'll give my candid opinions below.

Since this is a child's book I don't judge by my usual criteria but explore two basic questions. The first is whether I would want my child to read it. To this I say most assuredly yes. It has a strong lesson to teach about following your own path, bravery and never giving up and being systematic in everything you do. As a fairly logical person I would like every chance to influence my children in that particular regard especially! More importantly, the book contains nothing one could consider even remotely of concern for young audiences. No sex, no drugs, just a bit of adventure, petty theft and lying to one's parents. OK, maybe not the best example but not like some of the terrible YA stuff I've come across.

The second question is whether I think my kids would want to read it at all. This is always difficult to judge but it does have characters that kids can relate to and a pretty entertaining story line. The vocabulary is not especially daunting and the action picks up from the every first paragraph so I think this one has a chance at setting the hook.

So in summary, I was entertained enough reading it and I think kids will be too. I have no concerns about the lesson they'll get out of it and they might learn something positive too if they're not careful. Exactly the sort of book I wold have liked as a youngster.

Profile Image for Ensiform.
1,337 reviews140 followers
July 10, 2019
A young shy girl with glasses, Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She, her older sister, and her father (an expert on swords) go to a foreign city “where it never stops snowing” to help set up a historical sword exhibition in a vast, creepy museum. With their mother recently dead, Ophelia and Alice are subdued and sad, with their father deliberately shutting everything but work aside, although he does seem to be falling under the spell of the beautiful museum director. When Ophelia discovers a strange, old-fashioned boy held prisoner in a room, she is reluctantly set on a quest that will test her strength, her nerves, and her credulity, as well as helping her embrace the memory of her mother’s wisdom at last. The writing is evocative of fairy tales, especially during the passages when the boy tells his story. Some of the scenes in the deserted and forgotten rooms of the frozen museum are extremely skillfully laced with suspense and an eerie sense of danger. The unknown resources of heroism and loyalty Ophelia shows as the stakes get higher make her an admirably heroic figure. I found it rather disappointing, therefore, that in the midst of all the fantastic, nigh-apocalyptic elements, it is a rather prosaic sword fight in which Ophelia is little more than an observer that serves as the climax.
Profile Image for Jen Ryland.
1,480 reviews901 followers
September 9, 2016
Wonderful middle grade! This book has all the things I would have adored as a middle grade reader -- a underconfident/underestimated yet plucky heroine, a creepy villainess, a fun and imaginative setting, suspense, intrigue, and a whole lot of heart.

I was a HUGE fan of Foxlee's The Midnight Dress. I loved her lyrical writing and imaginative story structure, and think she's a natural to write for a middle grade audience that, like Ophelia's mother, still believes that all things are possible.

The Snow Queen is one of my favorite fairy tales, and I'm always up for a new adaptation. I loved the liberties that this book takes with the original story -- keeping the essentials -- a boy who needs to be saved by a girl, a wicked queen, and a seemingly impossible quest -- and transferring them to a rambling urban museum filled to the brim with strange and wonderful treasures.

Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Becket.
1,023 reviews36 followers
March 1, 2015
Understated but lovely. Not your typical fantasy adventure full of breathless action and splashy magic, but rather a quieter tale, more consistent with the bittersweet tone of Anderson's original Snow Queen story. Lyrical writing, fantastic atmosphere, and a steady pace help, but it's really Ophelia's character growth that drives this story. It reminded me of Flora & Ulysses in that respect--a skeptical girl learning that it's okay to experience feelings...even sad feelings about irrevocable changes in your family.

Good stuff. I was not a fan of The Anatomy of Wings, but after The Midnight Dress and now this, I'm solidly in the Foxlee fan camp.
Profile Image for Beatrice.
164 reviews6 followers
December 14, 2015
Ophelia is adorable, she's the kind of character that has you rooting for her. I also really liked how full of emotion all the characters were, Opelia got scared, happy and confused, she wasn't locked in a mold like many characters. Her sister's mood and the fathers reactions all made the characters very real.
Profile Image for e.c.h.a.
503 reviews253 followers
August 26, 2015
full of misery

Sempat mikir, kira-kira anak-anak yang baca buku ini jadi takut datang ke Museum atau malah pengen menjelajahi Museum biar bisa seperti Ophelia? Yang jelas kisahnya bikin gue merinding plus sedih.

Anyway, it's children book so don't worry it's happy ending :)
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