Review: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Why I chose this book: I  discovered this book while perusing net galley, and couldn't resist the charm that I found in-between the lines of the synopsis. Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard is a girl that stumbles upon an adventure inside a museum. What is not to love? It also had a cover that resembled a mixture of The Series of Unfortunate Events and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making; both books I love. I simply had to give this book a try. 

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Format: ARC Galley
Genre: Middle Grade Lit, Fantasy, Fairy Tale
Buy: B&N | Indiebound | Amazon

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. (Goodreads)

Five Things You Need to Know: 

1. Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard is a girl who isn't very brave. One of the many things I enjoyed about this book was the characterization of Ophelia. She is an 11-year-old girl with typical 11-year-old problems (like asthma and an ever growing hole in her jacket pocket). While Ophelia claims she isn't very brave, she does many brave things. This girl comes from very dim circumstances at the beginning of the novel, including a checked-out father and deceased mother, yet she doesn't let her hardships control who she is or what decisions she makes. She is resilient and able to rise above the challenges life throws at her. 

2. Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard lives in a world that is nothing short of magical. I wouldn't be exaggerating when I say the setting in this book is magically charming. If Ophelia and her adventure take the lead roles, then the museum is her stage upon which she tramples about endlessly. Karen Foxlee creates room after room of displays that literally come to life. Alongside this, Foxlee creates a dichotomy between Ophelia and the magic that surrounds her. While she embraces the magic, she is still realistic and quite sassy.  

3. Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard  is a girl who sees that adults are flawed. This is a theme that I liked a lot. Ophelia is taught to think like an "adult" and rely only on science and logic, then meets the Marvelous Boy, who teaches her to think much differently. The Marvelous Boy helps Ophelia see that its okay to believe in magic, and sometimes, it is necessary. Ophelia begins to understand that her father is often times wrong, as are other adults in her life. She accepts this, but realizes she doesn't have to adopt their way of thinking.

4. Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard is a girl that is decidedly European and decidedly quirky. This book is very British, which only adds to the book's charm. Ophelia also has many habits and quirks that one cannot help but laugh at, such as her "puffer" (inhaler) that she uses habitually during times of great duress. The author also uses the repetition of Ophelia's name to introduce her quirks and flaws that range from heartbreaking to downright hilarious. 

5. Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard is a girl who's story stems from deeper roots. It took me a while to realize that this story is a modern day retelling of Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen.  Foxlee uses the fairy tale and twists it into something completely new. The story is dark enough to entertain students of all ages, and innocent enough for younger students to enjoy.  

Final Thoughts: 
I was enchanted by this book. Foxlee is a magical writer that is able to write strong, yet believable children who can do larger than life things. The narrative is lyrical and the structure is captivating. This is a book I will definitely be incorporating into my classroom library. 

I gave this book four stars on my Goodreads


  1. I'm about halfway through this one, and I'm loving it! I'm so excited to go and find a finished copy of this. Your review is spot-on with what I've read so far.

    1. Thanks! I hope you enjoy it! I really did. It is an adorable read.


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