Alice Alexis Queensmeadow 12 rates three things most important: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. Father disappeared from Ferenwood with only a ruler, almost three years ago. But she will have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is Oliver whose own magic is based in lies and deceit. Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.
Tahereh Mafi created a wonderful story full of color and magic. It seems like it might be an Alice In Wonderland retelling in a way. There were definite similarities and wording.
Alice was born with no color in a world full of color. She has white skin and white hair, with just a little color in her eyes. She has never been able to accept herself because of this. At 12 years old, kids in Ferenwood must show off their magic and receive a challenge. Alice doesn’t show off her true talent and receives a very bad score.
Oliver has already received his challenge, which is to find Alice’s missing father in Furthermore. He needs Alice’s help and she finally decides to go with him. Her father was the only one who told her how beautiful and magical she was.
Furthermore is this crazy world full of adventures and danger. The people there eat others for their magic. Oliver and Alice must navigate through this strange land to bring Alice’s father home. This is obviously not an easy challenge.
Throughout the story, we see Alice become more accepting of herself and she and Oliver work together as friends. Watching their friendship and trust grow was such a moving part of the story. But my favorite part was seeing how Alice grew to love herself just as she was.
“Alice knew that being different would always be difficult; she knew there was no magic that would erase narrowmindedness or iron out the inequities in life. But Alice was also beginning to learn that life was never lived in absolutes. People would both love her and rebuff her; they would show both kindness and prejudice. The simple truth was that Alice would always be different-but to be different was to be extraordinary, and to be extraordinary was an adventure. It no longer mattered how the world saw her; what mattered was how Alice saw herself.
Alice would chose to love herself, different and extraordinary, every day of the week.”
This is a great middle grade story that is perfect for any age. I gave it 4 1/2 stars.
A new adventure about a girl who is fated to wash the bodies of the dead in this companion to Furthermore.
Our story begins on a frosty night…
Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way). Before she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined to spend her days washing the bodies of the dead and preparing their souls for the afterlife. It’s become easy to forget and easier still to ignore the way her hands are stiffening and turning silver, just like her hair, and her own ever-increasing loneliness and fear.
But soon, a pair of familiar strangers appears, and Laylee’s world is turned upside down as she rediscovers color, magic, and the healing power of friendship.
Whichwood was a fun companion to Furthermore. I did like Furthermore better, but this one was still really good.
Laylee lives in Whichwood and is a moredeshoor. She inherited the gift from her father that enabled her to clean the dead before they moved on to the Otherwhere. But this magic took a huge toll on her. She was much too young to be doing all the work by herself, but her father lost himself after the death of her mother. Laylee’s body was deteriorating and becoming weaker. She told no one, but she knew she would be dead soon. But Laylee continued to prepare all the bodies. Being a mordeshoor, Laylee could also see and communicate with ghosts, including her mother who never moved on.
“After three months, the magic that bound ghosts to their mordeshoor would break, adn they would then be free to leave hallowed ground, roam the land, and steal skins from teh first persons they could find.”
Alice and Oliver end up in Whichwood. Alice’s task involved saving Laylee, but she had no idea how or why. Oliver ended up completely in love with Laylee right away. There was something about her that pulled to him. Alice was nice to Laylee, but she didn’t know how to reach her. Laylee was used to being alone and wasn’t used to people trying to be her friend.
We also meet a new boy, Benyamin, that I adored. He had a bond with insects and they would help him when they could. The spiders crawling on him creeped me out a bit at first, but I really started to like them a lot. Benyamin’s mom, Madarjoon, was an incredible addition to the story. Her strength and love were touching.
“A piece of advice, sweet son of mine: Never, ever again tell a woman she’s not strong enough.”
Most of the story centers around Laylee and her struggles, but also the three other children who try to help her. Once again, Tehereh Mafi paints such an amazing picture of color and magic. Her descriptions are so vivid and it’s easy to see everything as she describes it.
I gave Whichwood 4 stars.
I received a copy of this arc from Edelweiss+ for review. Quotes are subject to change before the final printing.
Whichwood will be published on November 14th by Dutton Books For Young Readers.