The Real Boy by Anne Ursu
Posted by Caitie F on September 22, 2013
Summary from pub:
On an island at the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy. The city is called Asteri, a perfect city that was saved by the magic woven into its walls from a devastating plague that swept through the world over a hundred years before. The forest is called the Barrow, a vast wood of ancient trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. And the boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the Barrow. Oscar spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master’s shop grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago.
Oscar’s world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in. But it’s been a long time since anyone who could call himself a wizard walked the world, and now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the trees will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.
Great books have more than great characters and a fun plot. They suck you into their world and beg you not to leave until they are done with you. And while you are there, you get to thinking about your world’s problems too.
This is a wonderful fantasy story that is about more than just a story. It talks about income inequality in a way that doesn’t hit you over the head, but reminds the reader of all the little things. It shows how profound grief is and how far people will to go to prevent themselves from feeling that grief again. It is about opening yourself up to more of the world than your own little corner, even if you really like your corner. And, like many books, it is about being yourself, and being your best self.
Oscar is an orphan, like many characters in fantasy books. He gets teased, doesn’t have any friends, and is incredibly bright. All pretty common things in a middle grade character. Yet the way he thinks and interacts with the world is wholly unique. There is more to him than most see, but the reader gets a glimpse of it early with his interactions with the cats. Throughout the book, you just want to sit down and tell him that it will all be okay.
This book is not just for middle grade readers, it has great crossover appeal because it is just so well-written. And look at that cover. I would buy this book just for the cover.
I hope you read this wonderful book!