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?

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