The Real Boy by Anne Ursu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oscar is a magician’s apprentice who lives in the cellar. On the island of Aletheia, his simple life is pinned to a tidy routine of chores. He collects plants and dries and grinds the magical herbs. Late at night, he sneaks into his master’s library under the watchful eye of the cats.
But the island’s magic is unravelling. It has been generations since the wizards saved the island from a deadly plague. Now, the children of the Shining City are falling ill and something monstrous lurks in the forest.
Anne Ursu’s THE REAL BOY is a wonderfully disquieting read. Oscar is not a hero. He can barely make eye contact, let alone make sense of the confusion around him. But with Callie, the healer’s apprentice, Oscar discovers who he really is, and together they race to save the only world they know.
“It had all been such a beautiful lie.”
I truly connected with Ursu’s powerful tale. The writing is beautiful. Aletheia is a world so well-wrought that you can smell the forest and feel the dry wind of the Plaguelands. It is a story that does not offer simple solutions. Oscar’s self-doubt and struggle to make sense of the world resonate on every page.
In the end, Oscar’s self-sacrifice is the only way forward. Because magic has a way of creating its own monsters and the only weapon we have is courage.
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