The Marvels by Brian Selznick Book Review

The Marvels by Brian Selznick
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 15, 2015

The Marvels are a acting dynasty known throughout London, but they are also a family that seems to have quite a string of bad luck. Sunken ships, dead brothers, abandoned babies, and madness follow them throughout the generations. Fast forward to 1990, where Joseph has run away from his private school and is determined to find shelter with his Uncle. What he discovers is a very odd man living in a strange house that seems to be stuck in time. Birds seem to chirp out of nowhere, the food is left half eaten, and there are remnants of the Marvels everywhere you look. Joseph begins to scratch the surface and finds a mystery that is far more complex than he ever imagined.

As with his previous books, Selznick once again proves his astonishing ability to create a story that looks and feels like a film. From the close up snapshots, to the imagery within his prose, I found myself emotionally invested in the story from the very beginning.What I loved even more than the first half of the story that involved the illustrated Marvels and more than young runaway Joseph, is the semi-twist in which the real story is even more compelling than that of the Marvels.

As I read it became clear to me that Selznick has his own emotional attachment to this story, which is revealed in the author's note at the end of the story. What is revealed is Selznick's friendship with a man named Dennis Severs who ran a house in London at 18 Folgate Street that is the inspiration for this story. Although I thought this was an interesting side note, I did not find it relevant to the telling of the story, but it was obviously a homage to Dennis Severs and that makes the telling of it special.