The Wonderling is a middle grade novel written and illustrated by Mira Bartok. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because I have three girls in the middle grade range, and I knew this book would appeal to them.
Arthur is a young fox groundling (a sort of anthropomorphic animal). He lives in an orphanage with other groundlings, ruled by the cruel Miss Carbunkle, who metes out punishments to maintain order and has placed a permanent ban on music or anything happy. Arthur meanders through his miserable existence, but that changes when he meets Trinket. It is Trinket who gives him his name- before that, doesn’t even have a name and is referred to as Thirteen. Trinket becomes Arthur’s first friend, and she tells him wonderful stories about the world outside the Home. Arthur is terrified by change, but with Trinket’s coaxing, he agrees to escape with her. This proves to be the beginning of an amazing adventure, as Arthur tries to discover his origins.
This was an amazing story. It took us awhile to read this one, but the girls were very excited to read a chapter or two every night. I loved the immersive world, and the most fascinating thing is that even though Arthur’s travels took him to so many different places, I feel as though we barely scratched the surface of Arthur’s world. We all loved the camaraderie between Trinket and Arthur; their friendship is certainly one for the ages.
It’s hard to determine which part was our favorite because there were so many lovely things that happened over the course of the story. I have to say that I loved the Fagin-like character who takes Arthur under his wing at one point. My girls loved Trinket’s inventions, as well as the incident with the wig. Oh, and the Songcatcher was something of great interest to them too.
I would absolutely recommend The Wonderling to middle grade readers. It has a quirky Victorian steampunk motif that adds a rich layer to the overall ambience. The story moves at a fairly quick pace; it seemed as though there was always something happening. We can’t wait to find out what the future holds for Arthur, Trinket, and the rest of our favorites.
I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.