Review: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

Genre: fantasy Age Level: middle grade Series: N/A
Genre: fantasy
Age Level: middle grade
Series: N/A

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.


From the moment I saw the gorgeous cover and read the intriguing summary, I thought Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy would be my next favourite read. Perhaps it is because I had such high expectations, but the book was very disappointing.

The writing feels oversimplified. Its like when adults dumb down their sentences to talk to kids which always bugs me. There are no complicated words and the sentences are short and simple. This makes the story seem childish and simple, while some big words and longer sentences would have made the book more sophisticated.

The plot was extremely transparent. I figured out what was going on within the first few pages and kept waiting for Ophelia to put two and two together, which only happened near the end. Alice and Ophelia’s father are extremely naive and never question any of the strange things going on around them.

I don’t like Ophelia as a character. Her scientific nature annoys me and the thing with her mother is just way too weird. I’m all for characters who appear weak and powerless, and who later find their destiny and achieve greatness. However, with these characters, you can always see something in them which makes you believe in there potential and root for them. With Ophelia, I couldn’t see anything in her that made me want to support her and I found it unrealistic – even for a story – that she was able to save the day.

My favourite part of the book, which thankfully makes up about half the book, is the Marvelous Boy’s story. I found it much more interesting than Ophelia’s story, and wish he could have been the main character instead. I would have loved to hear more details about what we know, and hear about the parts of his life he didn’t tell Ophelia. Basically more about him and less about Ophelia. His story was the only reason I liked the book at all, otherwise I would have given it a much lower rating.  

The setting of the museum is cool, but it isn’t used to its full potential. If you set a book in a strange and wonderful museum then explore it, have secrets hidden in it – don’t just use it as a backdrop. Most of the happenings in the museum I found to be strange, not scary. The ghosts are the only part I found thrilling and interesting because a good few chapters were spent with them. If the book were longer and more involved, I would have possibly liked it more.

Unless you think you’ll really like it, I don’t recommend reading it.

Have you read this book? What did you think? I’d love to hear from you!


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