Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy

Title: Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy
Author: Karen Foxlee
Published: 2014
Pages: 233
First Line: In the end the Queen was nothing like she was in the stories the Marvellous Boy had been told, first as a child beside the hearth and later by the wizards.

"She was running out of the room as fast as she could, with the sword raised before her. She called back to her father. "I'll be back soon. I've just got to save the world."

Ophelia’s father is the world’s leading expert on swords, which is why she, and her sister Alice are staying in a fancy museum while her father curates a much-awaited exhibit. Alice, fourteen and distant since the death of their mother, has little time for Ophelia, preferring instead to enjoy the privileges and treats laid out before her by the cold and aloof museum director, Ms. Kaminski. With her sister and father busy, this leaves Ophelia to explore the museum largely unchaperoned – except for the guards knitting in the corners, that is (I would love to be a knitting guard, by the way).
I’m not entirely sure what kind of museum this is (it’s either unclear or I completely missed it) but it is housed within a palace and has pretty much everything you could imagine – dinosaurs, armour, doll houses, clothes, paintings, everything. While wondering, Ophelia comes across a room with beautiful mosaics set into the floor and walls, mosaics and sea creatures, and a boy her age, a boy holding a sword and referred to as “The Marvellous Boy”. It is while admiring these that she hears a voice, a call for help.

“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.” 

Locked in a bare room is the Marvellous Boy himself. He has been imprisoned by the Snow Queen and has mere days remaining to claim his freedom, find “The Other One” who will recover his lost sword, and help him defeat the Snow Queen. Unfortunately, he has enlisted the help of a rather scientifically-minded young girl. She has no time for his talk of wizards, magic, swords, and evil queens. She is going to stay out of trouble and go ice-skating with her sister, not go on a crazy hunt for keys, dodging man-eating misery birds. Right? Of course not.
I really wanted to love Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy, going in I felt the story had the right level of simple magic and straight forward quest to really hit the nail on the head for a quick younger read. Unfortunately, I felt it dragged a bit, to the point where I even considered putting it down (very unlike me). It had a lot of promising elements – I loved the idea of the wizards taking away the boy’s name to keep it safe, and I would have liked to have explored the museum a little more, because it’s range of exhibits fascinated me, but ultimately these elements did not outweigh the holes in the plot (more information on the Snow Queen’s motivations, what happened to the King?) and the repetition (go here and find a key, then go there and find another key, oh but then the key you really need…). The novel had its charms, but not enough to make me love it. 3/5

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