Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

opheliaOphelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee. Knopf, 2014. 240 pages. Age/interest level: 9-12.

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.

  • Worldview rating (out of 5): 4
  • Literary rating: 4
For more on Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy and Karen Foxlee, see the publisher’s website. For more on fairy tales here on RedeemedReader, see the reviews of three new/original fairy tales, Megan’s introduction to The Light Princess during our summer reading adventure last year, or muse with us on fairyland in general! Cover image from goodreads; thanks to publisher for book in ARC form via netgalley.

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2 Responses to Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

  1. Betsy February 28, 2014 at 6:43 am #

    What is this free time you speak of, Hayley? I haven’t seen any in ages ;-)

  2. Hayley S. February 20, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

    Thanks for the review, Betsy! I look forward to reading this when I have some free time :-)

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