Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Horn Book on Extraordinary

Lauren Adams gives Extraordinary a very nice review in the upcoming issue of The Horn Book Magazine:

A present-day teen's search for self collides with a magical faerie world in this suspenseful fantasy. As a privileged Rothschild daughter, Phoebe lives in the shadow of her "extraordinary" family and her brilliant, powerful mother, fearing that she is the only ordinary person among them. In middle school, Phoebe is instantly drawn to the strange new girl Mallory and offers her friendship and advice. Over the course of four years, the girls become inseparable, and late-bloomer Phoebe relies on now-gorgeous Mallory to take the lead. Interspersed "Conversation[s] with the Faerie Queen" reveal that Mallory is not what she appears, and that Phoebe is merely a cog in a desperate mission to collect an old debt for the faerie folk. Mallory's captivating brother Ryland is sent to finish the job, threatening not only vulnerable Phoebe but her family as well. As she did in Impossible (rev. 9/08), Werlin smoothly blends contemporary realism and fantasy, here basing the story on the real historical figure Mayer Rothschild and spinning his family's extraordinary success into a supernatural bargain. The faerie garden behind Ryland's bedroom door comes to life with the texture, scent, and sound of enchanted flora and fauna. Ryland's cold seduction and manipulation of Phoebe is palpably dangerous; the "glamoured" Phoebe can't recognize the predatory nature of his sexual advances. In contrast, the genuine warmth of Mallory's friendship allows some hope in spite of her terrible betrayal. Phoebe's final reckoning with the faeries tests her own inner strength; ultimately her survival depends on it-just as in the real world.

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