Today, we are thrilled to host a stop on the blog tour for Anne Ursu’s newest book, fantasy middle grade novel The Real Boy. We are huge fans of Anne’s (having read and loved Breadcrumbs), so were thrilled when we were invited to take part in this tour.
And now, without further ado, we’re thrilled to present one of the illustrations from The Real Boy, plus an excerpt for our stop on the tour.
All artwork copyright © 2013 by Erin McGuire
He lifted his hand high and—crack—slapped Oscar on the cheek. Oscar’s palm flew up to his face like a startled bird. His cheek roared, and it felt like a bottle had shattered inside his head.
Caleb drew up. “I will find a new apprentice to replace Wolf,” he said, voice steady. “You will go back to the cellar where you belong; I see being upstairs gives you grand delusions. And if you ever speak of this, to anyone, I will turn you out and leave you in the plaguelands. All you have to give is your loyalty, do you understand? That is your only worth.”
Oscar held his cheek and tried to blink his brain back into place. Caleb was right: his loyalty was all he had to give. He began to make his way to the basement, below ground where he belonged.
But when he got to the doorway he stopped and turned. “Master Caleb?”
“What?” Caleb snapped.
“I want to know why,” he said. “Not about cutting down the trees, but . . .”
That was it. He couldn’t say it. It was his one chance, and he could not commit the truth to words.
But Caleb did not ask him what he was talking about. He folded his arms and appraised Oscar. “There was a need,” he said. “That is all.”
Oscar nodded slowly. At least it was the truth. He walked into the back room, and down the stairs into the dark cellar. His pantry awaited him.
This was what he’d wanted. Even though his cheek stung and he could still feel Caleb’s fury lashing at him, he should have felt relieved. He had his four walls and ceiling back, his small little days, his mortar and pestle and his beginnings, middles, and ends. There would be no more shop, no more customers, no more journeys to the City, no more world shifting under his feet. He had it all back, everything in its place. He should feel relieved, happy.
He should. He should.
About the Book
On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy. The city is called Asteri, a perfect city that was saved by the magic woven into its walls from a devastating plague that swept through the world over a hundred years before. The forest is called the Barrow, a vast wood of ancient trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. And the boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the Barrow. Oscar spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master’s shop, grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago. Oscar’s world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.
But it’s been a long time since anyone who could call himself a wizard walked the world, and now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill, and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the trees will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.
About the Author
Anne is the author of Breadcrumbs, a contemporary retelling of “The Snow Queen,” and the three books in The Cronus Chronicles series—The Shadow Thieves, The Siren Song, and The Immortal Fire. She has also written two books for adult readers. Anne teaches at Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children, and lives in Minneapolis with her young son.
Make sure to stick around as later today we review The Real Boy!