“The Marvels” by Brian Selznick | Book Review

4/5 stars | Genre – Histroical Fiction

Taking another quick break from the Narnia series, I found some time as part of my usual morning routine to read this wonderful book. Despite its thick size, it was a good light read. The overall look of the book, with a detailed front cover and beautiful gold-lining on the pages, it was how visually pleasing it looked that made me want this book.

Two seemingly unrelated stories-one in words, the other in pictures-come together with spellbinding synergy! The illustrated story begins in 1766 with Billy Marvel, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, and charts the adventures of his family of actors over five generations. The prose story opens in 1990 and follows Joseph, who has run away from school to an estranged uncle’s puzzling house in London, where he, along with the reader, must piece together many mysteries. How the picture and word stories intersect will leave readers marveling over Selznick’s storytelling prowess. (synopsis from Goodreads)

Inital reaction…

Upon first opening the book I was first surprised by the amount of illustration that filled the first 100 pages. I’m never one for graphic novels, but the type of art style used made it more appealing and interesting for me to get the story as I flicked through each page. There was a moment where the story slumped slightly for me, but overall I enjoyed the story.

Favourite moments…

  • The illustration: I always have a love for illustrations in books, and this one is full to the brim of beautifully designed pages. It does tetter towards become an out-n-out graphic novel, but does steer back towards a typical written novel towards the end. This was my favourite thing about the book as it still told the story beautifully.
  • Interesting family history: as the book explored different generations of the Marvel family I became more intrigued by this famous family. Although fictional, it started to feel more and more like these characters could’ve been real. Maybe that was just me hoping a family of prolific actors could exist in this day and age.
  • Bittersweet plot: now I won’t actually give away what happens (not here for spoiling things), but once you get to the end it really brings the whole novel into perspective. Just skimming back through now, I see the story in a whole other light.

At the end of the day…

This book very much surprised me. I wanted the book based entirely on how it looked, for the first time I added it to my “to read” list without actually opening any of the pages when I saw it in the shop. Although, there was a slight moment towards the end where I was really losing track of where the story was going, I still really enjoyed the rest of the story. I would definitely recommend this book to others!


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