Colour and magic combine in this enchanting new middle grade fantasy from the bestselling author of the Shatter Me series.
Born as blank as canvas in a world brimming with colour and magic, Alice’s pale skin and milk-white hair mark her as an outcast. Because, for the people of Ferenwood, colour and magic are one and the same. And since the disappearance of her beloved father, Alice is more determined than ever to prove herself and her own magical abilities.
To do so she’ll have to travel into the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, with the help of a fiercely annoying boy named Oliver. But nothing in Furthermore is as it seems, and it will take all of Alice’s wits to find her father and return him safely home.
There’s an old saying; “Never judge a book by its cover.” But do you know what I did when I saw Furthermore perched on a shelf in the bookstore? I did exactly that. Faced with a protagonist wearing the cheekiest of grins and surrounded by a chaos of color and origami foxes, how could I not judge it by its cover alone? How could I not, before even flipping it over and reading the blurb, think “This. Looks. Freaking. AWESOME!”
And yet…somehow, the cover, in all its wonderfully garish glory, doesn’t do it justice. Somehow, the story encased within exceeded the expectations created by the cover.
Furthermore, written by Tahereh Mafi, author of popular Shatter Me series, is a delightful story of growth, love and adventure. The protagonist, Alice Alexis Queensmeadow, is a Ferenwood resident newly turned twelve…and that can only mean one thing. It’s time for her Surrender, an annual event in which “they give thanks” and “surrender themselves and their gifts and, in return, take on a task – the purpose of which is always to help someone or someplace in need.” That in itself is a wonderful concept to build a book upon; it’s a notion that shows young readers that everyone has a gift or talent that can make a difference to those around them. A book with a positive, uplifting message at its core is a book I’m automatically going to enjoy.
For Alice, however, the Surrender is more than a simple rite of passage. It’s something that she hopes will pave the path to acceptance because Ferenwood is a town that derives its magic from color, something that Alice outwardly lacks. She hopes that by surrendering her gifts and displaying her magic, the residents of Ferenwood will see she’s worthy of the title ‘Ferenwood resident’.
Of course, though, Alice’s plan doesn’t go quite to plan and instead, she ends assisting her once-arch nemesis, Oliver, in his attempt to complete his own Surrender task; to travel to Furthermore and retrieve Alice’s father.
As much as it broke my heart to see Alice so dejected following her failure, for me, this was the best thing that could have happened. What ensues is the weirdest, most wonderful adventure story I have probably ever read. If someone were to ask me to summarize Furthermore in one word, I’d choose the word ‘bonkers’. Is that a word anyone outside the UK uses? A world in which the clouds are blue, the sky pink and in which origami foxes frolic and play is a world I want to be a part of. For me, reading is all about escapism and Furthermore offered me that. Alice and Oliver seemed to reach through the pages, take me by the hands, and yank me out of the humdrum of my reality. Their world is unlike anything I’ve ever encountered before; it’s so crazy, inexplicable and random that I sometimes couldn’t even guess what the next paragraph would entail, let alone the next page or chapter!
The unending hilarity (mostly provided by Alice – the scene in which they arrive in Furthermore and she thinks she’s drowning had me wheezing I was laughing so hard) wasn’t the only reason why I was pleased Alice failed her Surrender. Up until that point, she pins all her hopes and dreams upon the Surrender and the social acceptance that she will ultimately be rewarded with…failing her Surrender shows her that she is capable of achieving great things with or without the acceptance of Ferenwood. There’s a saying; “Some people will only love you if you fit into their box. Don’t be afraid to disappoint.” Admittedly, my favorite variant of this saying is “Some people will only love you if you fit into their box. Don’t be afraid to shove that box up their ass.” but the overall message is the same; don’t live your life to please others and I think this is a valuable lesson Alice learns and it’s a lesson that passes through the pages and onto readers. She realizes she’s so much more than the expectations of Ferenwood and the self-acceptance that stems from that is truly wonderful.
Furthermore is bonkers. It’s weird. It’s brilliant…and I hear there’s rumors of a sequel? Even better 😉
Song: David Bowie’s Dance Magic Dance
This book is available on Amazon in both e-reader and paperback format.