Thursday, September 19, 2013

ARC Review: The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

The Real Boy
Author: Anne Ursu
Publication: Walden Pond Press (September 24, 2013)

Description: The Real Boy, Anne Ursu’s follow-up to her widely acclaimed and beloved middle-grade fantasy Breadcrumbs, is an unforgettable story of magic, faith, and friendship.

On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy named Oscar. Oscar is a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the village, and 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 it.
But now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill, and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the forest will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.

My Thoughts: THE REAL BOY was a magical story with a wonderful main character. Oscar is an orphan who was taken from his orphanage and installed as magician's hand. He is the one who gathers the herbs and other greenery to make the tinctures, potions, and ingredients that the magician sells. He is content living in his workroom in the basement with only cats for his friends. He loves spending time, when he is supposed to be sleeping, reading the books about plants from his master's library.

Oscar doesn't deal well with people. He gets confused because they don't say what they mean and he can't interpret facial expressions at all. When his master goes off to the continent on business and the apprentice is killed in the forest, Oscar is left to mind the shop and deal with customers. Luckily, the Healer's apprentice Callie befriends him and begins to teach him how to deal with people.

When the Healer also leaves town, Callie is on her own too. This is so not the time for sickness to come to the children of the Shining City. But the sickness does come and both Callie and Oscar need to scramble and use all their talents to try to heal the children. 

This book has magic and friendship and tough decisions. And it has two really likable characters in Oscar and Callie. Readers will be glad to get to know them. 

Favorite Quote:
There is a way the truth hits you, both hard and gentle at the same time. It punches you in the stomach while it puts its loving arm around your shoulder. Yes, I am terrible to behold, the truth says. But you suspected it all along, didn't you? And isn't it better, now that you know? Now, at least, it all makes sense.
I received this ARC for review. You can buy your copy here.

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