The Marvels (Brian Selznick, 2015)

the marvels

Why did you choose this book?

I thought it was about time that I read one of those giant Selznick tomes.

What’s it about?

This story can be roughly divided into 2 sections.  The first is substantially longer (about 400 pages) and is entirely composed of sketches.  The second is about 200 pages and is written as a traditional novel.  The sketches tell the story of a young boy who stowed away on a ship where his older brother was a crewman in 1766.  The two boys put on a play but the ship is caught in a storm and the ship breaks up, with the older brother falling from a very high perch.  Though they both reach land, the older boy dies and the younger one is eventually rescued.  The family is traced through 3 subsequent generations of actors in the same theater, which boasts a picture of the deceased brother as an angel on the ceiling.  The story section tells of a young boy who runs away from school to the home of his uncle in the 1990s.  His uncle, though, is quite the character and lives in a manner befitting the 19th century.  Do these two stories relate?


Graphic novels, jfiction

Other recommended reads?

The acting family, to me, echoed a theme of circus families that has been present in books for both young readers and adults recently.  Examples include The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley and The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler.


I wasn’t expecting so much of the novel to be graphic, but those portions drew me in more than the text-based sections did.  I also couldn’t put this book down, finishing it after a marathon reading at about 1:30 AM.  In its defense, I didn’t start it until around 10:30.  I wanted the resolution of the novel to be more magical than it was, but it was still a satisfying read.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but let me know what you think if you read it!

Up next?

In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward


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