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Review of The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden

trevayne_accidental afterlife of thomas marsdenThe Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden
by Emma Trevayne
Intermediate, Middle School     Simon    247 pp.
7/15     978-1-4424-9882-2     $16.99     g
e-book ed. 978-1-4424-9886-0     $10.99

While out grave-robbing with his father one night, Thomas Marsden digs up a corpse that looks exactly like him, down to the birthmark on his cheek. In his hand the dead boy is holding tickets to a performance by the famous spiritualist, Mordecai, along with a note bearing the corpse’s name, Thistle, and the instruction Tell no one! Deadnettle, the elder faery who left the note, wants to break the news slowly to Thomas  that his parents are not his real parents; that his true people, the faeries, are enslaved by Mordecai to contact the spirits of the dead for his wealthy clients; and that, as the last surviving member of the royal line, Thomas is the only one who might break Mordecai’s enchantment. Trevayne plays her cards close to the vest, supplying pieces of the book’s puzzle with maddening slowness, but the central drama — Thomas’s decision whether to help the faeries despite having been rejected by them at birth, and despite the danger of their current request — makes it worth the wait. Reassuringly human, realistically self-interested Thomas is a solid foil for the ethereal faeries, whose whimsical magical abilities and characteristic fear of iron, church bells, and telling lies are trademark fey, though here freshened up enough to escape banality. By the end, Thomas’s humanity holds the key to the faeries’ salvation, leading to a resolution that satisfies all stake-holders, including, most gratifyingly, his readers.

From the July/August 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Anita L. Burkam About Anita L. Burkam

Horn Book reviewer Anita L. Burkam is former associate editor of The Horn Book Magazine.

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