Imagine, if you will, a perfect city, filled with perfect, almost glowing people, who lead perfect, happy lives. Now imagine that the magic they need to maintain that perfection is unavailable within their walls.

In The Real Boy, by Anne Ursu, Oscar is a shop boy who toils in the cellar preparing herbs for Caleb, a magician who provides magic to the residents of Asteri. The Barrow, where Oscar and Caleb live, is the center of a powerfully magical area. But now, the Barrow is being threatened by something sinister, and children in Asteri are falling ill.

Oscar doesn’t quite fit in this world, and he spends as much time as possible away from other people and their worries. That all changes, though, when Caleb departs for the mainland, leaving Oscar to run the shop. With the help of Callie, the healer’s apprentice, Oscar begins to discover why the children of Asteri are getting sick. And that discovery may teach Oscar more about himself than he anticipates.

In the overflowing category of books about magic and wizards, The Real Boy stands apart. Filled with rich characters, a fascinating backstory and an exciting conclusion, Ursu’s latest is a worthy successor to her immensely popular novel Breadcrumbs.

It‘s impossible to read The Real Boy and not be captivated by the magical spell of Oscar, Callie and the very special world of the Barrow.

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