- Author: B.A. Williamson
- Publisher: North Star Editions/Jolly Fish Press
- Publication Date: May 2018
The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray by B.A. Williamson is a fun book that teaches important lessons.
Gwendolyn Gray lives in The City where there are no stories. There are books that no one reads. But imagination is highly discouraged. The only problem is that Gwendolyn is highly imaginative. So much so that her peers (and even adults) look down on her in disdain–especially at her bright, curly red hair. For all intents and purposes, The City is black and white. Cityzens have black hair or platinum blonde hair. But Gwendolyn is special.
One day, after an incident in school, Gwendolyn finds herself at The City’s limits. She has never even imagined the possibility of there being an outside to The City. But as she is being attacked by two Faceless Gentlemen in bowler hats, she is rescued by two mysterious travelers.
Thus begins her adventures with her two new companions. Now Gwendolyn needs to figure out a way to stop the mysterious men, who seem in part responsible for why The City is the way it is.
The three main characters, Gwendolyn; Sparrow; and Starling, are all fairly well-rounded. Sparrow and Starling’s sibling relationship is done very well. They are brother and sister, and they act like it. While they bicker a lot, you can still tell they care about each other immensely. Sparrow is a very active child, getting into lots of trouble. However, he has a heart of gold. Starling is usually the one getting them out of trouble and is very clever when it comes to technology. Gwendolyn as well is a clever child. Her imagination allows her to think outside of the box.
Personally, though, my main concerns with the characters were the minor characters. Perhaps the best one was Kolonius Thrash, a swashbuckling teen captain. He was fun and had a bit of depth to him. The rest of them were, unfortunately, largely forgettable. The Cityzens and the ship crew felt very one-sided to me. Not only that, but the antagonists had a moustache-twirling quality that I’m not a fan of personally. (On the other hand, this might have been intentional, given the context.) I did like the Faceless Gentlemen a bit, though. They had a mysterious quality to them that really worked well for the story. They were eerie and unsettling without being over the top.
The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray is a book that makes imagination real. And that is where I think its strong suit lies. It encourages a message of positivity in the face of negativity. Furthermore, it does not shy away from some very real consequences. Regardless of ones actions, sometimes things just happen. I could imagine reading this book together with a child around the age of 10-12. There are a few references some adults might find amusing.
For me, personally, the weakest area was with the writing. When it was good, it was good. The ending was especially well written. However, there are many parts that felt like the narrator (who adds fun little quips every now and again) was talking down to the reader. Telling them things that I think would’ve been better incorporated through the use of context clues. I also felt that the romantic relationships were unnecessary and brought up some unneeded stereotyping, such as mentioning that all/most teenage boys act like such-and-such. With the narrator being outside the story (i.e., as far as I’m aware, the narrator was not Gwendolyn Gray), I wasn’t a big fan of the stereotyping.
Regardless, I would still recommend this book. It’s fun and has emotional depth. It doesn’t exactly answer every question, but it still has a great ending that could possibly lead to more adventures.
[I received a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]