Friday, March 8, 2013

ODDFELLOW'S ORPHANAGE


Review of ODDFELLOW'S ORPHANAGE by EMILY WINFIELD MARTIN
(based on a review copy)

In a word: quirky. ODDFELLOW'S ORPHANAGE drapes itself in mystery and whimsy and lets the words build onto the lovely illustrations. The novel opens on the arrival of the mute Delia, leads the reader through loosely connected excerpts from her new life at the orphanage (Each chapter stands on its own as a story about a particular character, adventure, or conflict.), and ends on a touching assessment.

While short and succinct, this book certainly has that ideal feel of continuing off the page. I came across a review that called these characters "one-dimensional," an assessment at which I bristled. Yes, we don't see much of them and some barely scamper across the short novel's stage, but Martin presents so much more for those who read closely and don't mind letting their imagination run off with the rest of the story. Like the professor who insists he has no interest in taking after his gardener father...but trims the hedges into the shapes of fantastical beasts. Or the angry little boy whose anger thinly veils sadness. Or the headmaster himself who clearly has an intriguing backstory with his brother. It wouldn't surprise me if Martin published future books in this world. She certainly created plenty of material open for further exploration!

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