Poking around Netgalley not long ago, I came across Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy and, intrigued by the description, began reading and was quickly hooked. It is a lovely, moody contemporary reworking of Andersen’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 — enigmatic touch), all of which made me smile.