Review: The Orphanage of Miracles by Amy Neftzger

July 22, 2013 4 stars, Book Review 7 ★★★★

The Orphanage of Miracles

Perhaps everyone could use a miracle, but very few will find the one they truly need.

Amid a war torn land and hidden deep within an enchanted forest lays an orphanage where miracles abound. It’s a magical place created years ago by a resolute king who must defeat an evil sorcerer waging bitter war against his land and his people. He knew that in order to save his people, victory would require a miracle.

A young girl named Kelsey also desperately needs a miracle. She sets out on a quest to find the whispered-of orphanage. Along the way she’s joined by several traveling companions, including an over-sized snow leopard and a boy who cannot speak. In a land under a spell cast by the evil sorcerer, it’s difficult to know the difference between what’s real and what isn’t … and what a true friend looks like. Join Kelsey and her companions as they embark on an extraordinary adventure and a quest unlike any other and take a peek inside The Orphanage of Miracles.

​​A serious quest with a silly journey to a place made for miracles, The Orphanage of Miracles was a zaney read that kids will enjoy. It was full of nonsensical things that of course made complete sense!

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Everyone knew that the orphanage had an enchanted forest on one side, but no one seemed to know exactly on which side it was located. Every time someone identified where it was, it seemed as if that part of the forest moved somewhere else. – pg 2
The description aptly tells you everything you can expect down to the key characters.  It is a story however, mostly told from two perspectives: that of Nicholas (a boy who lives and works in the Orphanage of Miracles) and Kelsey (a girl in search of a miracle). I expected a very traditional high fantasy setting but instead it was this strange mix of modern and fantasy. The land is magical and things are strange but then there are frequently references to things from our world. There were a few times where I was like “that is so spot on” – for instance:

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It’s a Monday. We all know that there are no miracles on Mondays. – pg 5
It’s fine that things from our world were regularly referenced because it allowed easy comparisons, but I did fid myself wishing it were fully fantasy.  Still it was full of magic and magic of course is always loads of fun!

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Seeing magic would be more like personally knowing the artist instead of just looking at the sculpture the artist has made – pg 2
There are several types of journeys that I feel “questing” fantasies frequently fall into.  The Orphanage of Miracles is very much the ‘annoying bratty character coming of age and growing into a better person’ type.  Personally, I’m always tormented when I read this kind of fantasy because I find it very hard to enjoy reading when I want to constantly slap the main character. Kelsey is one of those characters, she was full of herself, annoying, self indulgent, and always looking for the easy way out. That is all part of the point and necessary to this story and thankfully as far as quests go hers was a super enjoyable one to read!

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Quests are a huge inconvenience. Don’t let anyone tell you differently, even if that person has experience. The problem is that people forget the pain and aggravation as soon as the quest ends successfully, and then they remember only the glorious parts. In this way quests are a bit like childbirth, even to the point of saying that quests often give birth to glory. Maybe. – pg 13
Now, Nicholas was the total opposite of Kelsey! He was a wonderful child and I couldn’t get enough of him.  I found myself wishing more time was spent in the Orphanage of Miracles and less time following around Kelsey. I loved the idea of making miracles and all of the crazy ways they tried to make them, catch them, grow them…you name it and Nicholas and his friends Jovan & Maggie were trying it.

I love the witty and snarky characters of Meghan the Snow Leopard and the Sisters of Wisdom. There was another female character, Maggie – that I felt was rather similar to Kelsey.  They read like much the same person, what with their snappish behavior. But there was just this undefinable something that made Maggie pleasant and likeable where as Kelsey was not.  I still assume this was the intention since you get to start liking Kelsey at the end as her character grows.

This is a scene that made me fall in love with Maggie:

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“How is destruction beautiful?” He asked in a challenging tone.
“You may think that a broken egg is ugly and messy,” she answered, “but the cake it goes into is beautiful and won’t hold together without it.”
“Eggs don’t get blown up. They get broken.”
“You’ve never seen me bake,” she replied with a smirk. – pg 37
I have but one complaint and it almost nearly made me knock my review down 1 star. It was the very last chapter. But I can’t fault a book so much for just one chapter – no matter how much it got on my nerves, especially since I loved the whole book except those last 10 pages.   I felt the entire chapter was way too much “explaining all the things that don’t need explaining” – 10 pages worth of that! – it was done in the wise teacher to the unknowing student style.  Where everything down to the simplest concepts were explained and I hated that. I feel like it belittles the reader as well as the character in the story, because all of this information the reader has already gathered along the way while reading the book. So it was just a rehashing of everything that you know by this point already. If I could I would condense that whole chapter down to one page and it would have had so much more impact.

Ultimately, there was so much to be loved in The Orphanage of Miracles and I would recommend it to any pre-teen for a fun read about going in search of what you want, but instead finding what you need.

The Orphanage of Miracles

Find: Amazon | FogInk (signed copies) | Goodreads
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 The kindle edition is currently only $3.99!! There is also a Goodreads giveaway of 5 copies currently running (7/11 – 9/9/13)

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•Provided by the publisher for an honest review! All opinions expressed are my own. Please note that this post also contains affiliate links. To view our full Blog Policy, click here.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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7 Responses to “Review: The Orphanage of Miracles by Amy Neftzger”

  1. Gayatri

    I probably won’t read this one but I will definitely gift this one to my cousin’s daughter for her birthday which is in the next month! Thanks for sharing !
    Gayatri recently posted…Stacking the Shelves (2)My Profile

    • pabkins

      You know I love a little big of MG now and then. I’m super choosey about it. I think I read more and more of it now because I have a 1 year old and so many friends with kids and they are always asking for rec’s so I definitely read all over the board. Its so much fun to try to change your mindset to picture yourself as a kid and whether they’d like it!
      pabkins recently posted…Guest Post: Shopping List for a QuestMy Profile

      • Gayatri

        Its definitely fun to read children’s books once in a while! I haven’t read a children’s book recently but if find something very funny and interesting I don’t hesitate to buy it!
        Gayatri recently posted…Stacking the Shelves (2)My Profile

    • pabkins

      I’ve read two books like that the past few weeks where the character was super annoying and bratty and you just want to freaking smack them! Thankfully she wasn’t as bratty as the one in the other book! LOL I really enjoyed it. I love the artists illustrations!!
      pabkins recently posted…Guest Post: Shopping List for a QuestMy Profile