Fairy Fantasy, Supernatural Romance Mixes With Historical Figures In Nancy Werlin’s Extraordinary

Phoebe Rothschild – yes from the famous family – dumps her popular friends to befriend the new, odd girl named Mallory.  Phoebe is drawn to Mallory and her wealthy mother takes Mallory’s family under her wing.  What Phoebe does not know is that Mallory is not human.  She has been sent on a mission from the Fairy Queen.  The Fairy Queen is dying and it has something to do with Phoebe’s famous ancestor, Mayer Rothschild.  The story jumps ahead several years, with a much more poised Mallory.  She and Phoebe are still best friends.  But the Fairy Queen is not happy with Mallory’s progress and sends in another creature, Mallory’s brother, Ryland.  Ryland is everything Mallory is not; he is cruel and calculating and will not hesitate to hurt Phoebe to get what he wants.  When Mallory and Ryland use Phoebe and trick her into entering the Fairie Realm, Phoebe realizes what role she is supposed to play.

I always enjoy reading a book where a historical figure is present.  I of course had heard the name but did not know the story behind the famous family.  It was fun looking up information in the library biography database.  I really enjoy Nancy Werlin’s world building ability.  When Phoebe enters the fairy realm, I felt like I was right there with her.  She shares some information about the Fairy Queen but kept me hungry for more information and descriptions.  I was also fascinated with Phoebe’s ability to walk away from the mean girl clique and take a change with a new, unusual girl.  I was glad to see Mallory saved from bullying.  The story is much about sacrifice.  Mayer is unwilling to sacrifice a child he may know, but he was willing to sacrifice a child from a future generation.  It also asks the question of should a person hurt others to save people they love or should they sacrifice their loved ones to save another civilization.  Once again Werlin combines the fantasy world with the real world in a way that makes it believable.  I really love the cover.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Talk about how Phoebe broke up with her popular friends and befriended Mallory.  Is it likely that someone would be that bold?  Is it brave or foolish?  What could the consequences be?

Talk about what makes people best friends.

What draws her to Ryland?

What did you think the Fairy Queen wanted with Phoebe?

Look up biographical information about the Rothschild Family and discuss.

How did you think Phoebe was going to die?

What makes a person ordinary vs. extraordinary?

Talk about sacrifice.  Should Phoebe sacrifice herself to save her mother?

Would you sacrifice your own people to save another group of people?

Would you sacrifice others to save your loved ones?

Good Read in New Mermaid Fantasy

Lena is drawn to the sea and wants nothing more than to surf with her friends.  Her father was an expert but now won’t go near the water.  Lena’s mother died when she was a young child.  She knows that has something to do with the ocean but her father refuses to tell her the story.  When Lena starts sleepwalking to the beach, her family starts to worry.  During one of this walks, she sees a woman in the waves and becomes obsessed with seeing her again.  After Lena almost nearly drowns, the woman saves her and slips a key into hand.  She finds a chest which the key fits and finally learns the truth.  Lena’s mother is alive, but in finding her, Lena will have to give up everything she loves on land.

I really enjoyed this book.  I’ve always been fascinated by the Irish Selkie Legends.  I was glad this story used some of the seals aspect in this mermaid lore.  Madigan did a great job leading me along with just enough mystery to keep my interest.  I love the way she describes the characters, like her father and her friends.  The merworld is very interesting.  The author does a great job of world building using details to create an interesting society.  See my earlier post of Sea Change for another great read in mermaid fantasy.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

What did you think happened to Lena’s mother before the truth was revealed?

Talk about Lena’s relationship with Kai.  How does your relationship change when you become more than friends with a good friend.  What does that do to the rest of your friends.

Talk about the mer-world.  Share the Selkie legends from Ireland.

What makes Kai different from the handsome merman Lena meets underwater.

Talk about how Lena’s mother was an outcast for marrying  person who was different than herself.

Would you choose life on land or as a mer-person?