Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu


Eleven year old Oscar lives in the basement of a shop in The Barrow with Master Caleb the magician and his apprentice Wolf.   Oscar is the hand who performs all of the menial tasks at the shop like grinding leaves, pouring vials and keeping things clean and stocked.  Oscar likes the solitude of the cellar with his cats  because he can escape from the bullying of Wolf and it feels safe and secure.  Yet, when  unforeseen circumstances call Master Caleb away to the continent  and Wolf disappears, Oscar is thrown into the position of taking charge of the shop.   However, Oscar was never taught the skills for dealing with customers by Master Caleb and now he is left trying to keep things running.  Oscar soon finds aid from Callie, the apprentice of the town healer.  They forage a deal, Callie will help Oscar learn how to relate to people and he will help her find a way to cure the children of the city who have become sick.

I picked this book to read initially based on the cover, which is beautifully illustrated.  I also liked the intrigue of the title, The Real Boy.  There are hints of Pinocchio,  magic and well I do love a good fantasy read.  It's also apparently been nominated for  the 2013 National Book Award Long list for Young People's Literature.  

I really loved reading about Oscar and Callie.  Yet, this is one of those books that is hard to review.  It's hard to find the right balance of not saying to much and reveal the plot while trying to say enough to give the full flavor of the book.   I found Ursu did a remarkable job of blending fantasy with realistic character elements making Oscar such a lovable person to read about.  I think I will add some spoilers to my Goodreads review so you can check that out here.   I was also really intrigued about the Inspiration for Oscar and you can read that here and here is also a wonderful Review from

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