Book Review | Extraordinary
by Nancy Werlin

Score: 3.5

© 2010, Dial.

Imagine that in the 18th century Mayer Rothschild, founder of the famous Jewish banking family, found himself lost in the forest and stumbled upon a portal into the Fairie Kingdom. Fascinated by the Fairie society and enamored by their culture, he fell in love with and had an affair with the Fairie Queen. Unfortunately, he had a wife and infant waiting for him at home. Both he and the queen knew he could not stay in the Fairie Kingdom forever, so the queen favored him with a gift – anything he desired. He requested five sons in order to grow his business and make it something of great renown. The queen agreed, on one condition, he must provide a daughter to the Fairie Kingdom in return. After much thought, Mayer Rothchild agreed that after the third generation of children, the first Rothschild daughter who grew up to be an “ordinary” person, would belong to the Fairie Kingdom. The pact was made. The Rothschild’s went on to make history in banking. The Fairie Kingdom did not fair so well, however, as fulfilling Mayer Rothschild’s wish is costing them their lives as they wait for an “ordinary” female Rothschild.

Enter Phoebe Rothschild, who does not see herself as a valuable addition to her storied family. Is she the long awaited “ordinary” Rothschild daughter? She meets Mallory Tolliver, a new student, who clearly needs friendship and guidance if she is to survive the rigors of middle school and beyond. Mallory introduces Phoebe to her brother, Roland, whose good looks and charm sweep Phoebe off her feet.

This is a page-turner of a Jewish fantasy, coming-of-age novel that will keep you wondering from one chapter to the next who is the good guy and who is the bad? Where is all of this leading and why? Who can you trust? What is real and what is illusion?

The writing is vivid and emotional, bringing you into the fairie world as easily as into real life. The stresses of adolescent uncertainty, the roiling emotions of teenage love and the fluctuations in juvenile friendships are all described in exactly the right way. The realization that an ultimate sacrifice must be made in order for the Fairie Kingdom to survive is heart-wrenchingly palpable and the conclusion breathtaking.  If you enjoy fantasy fiction, this will be an excellent choice.

Grade Level: 9th-12th

Ages: 14-18

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were provided by my local public library.
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