I didn’t finish reading this book. A few short chapters in, I realized that I was most definitely not the target audience and I simply wasn’t being grabbed by what was happening on the page. That said, I do feel like I can recommend it because Karissa ages 8 – 12 would have loved this book.
Arthur is an orphan groundling – a sort of hybrid animal-human – living under the terrible rule of Miss Carbunkle in a fortress-like orphanage. He is known only as Number 13, shy and quiet and painfully lonely. He befriends a new orphan named Trinket and together they hatch a plan to escape the orphanage and discover where they truly belong.
This is a fantastical, magical, over-the-top type of story that kids who enjoy fairy tales and animal stories will likely love. There are lots of cliches (the orphanage bullies, Miss Carbunkle’s unrelenting evil) that kept me as an adult reader from feeling really immersed in the world Bartok creates, but there’s also lots of creativity and a younger reader would be less likely to notice some of the tropes. There seems to be me to be enough action and mystery to keep a reader engaged, although it clearly didn’t work for me.
I had an Advanced Reader’s Copy of the book but it appears that the final edition will have illustrations, something I think will be a great addition. Bartok really does create a unique little world and it could definitely add a lot to the book to have that visual aspect. If you know a young dreamer/reader, they just might find a lot to enjoy with The Wonderling