In this extraordinary debut novel with its deft nod to Dickensian heroes and rogues, Mira Bartók tells the story of Arthur, a shy, fox-like foundling with only one ear and a desperate desire to belong, as he seeks his destiny.
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Welcome to the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, an institution run by evil Miss Carbunkle, a cunning villainess who believes her terrified young charges exist only to serve and suffer. Part animal and part human, the groundlings toil in classroom and factory, forbidden to enjoy anything regular children have, most particularly singing and music. For the Wonderling, an innocent-hearted, one-eared, fox-like eleven-year-old with only a number rather than a proper name — a 13 etched on a medallion around his neck — it is the only home he has ever known. But unexpected courage leads him to acquire the loyalty of a young bird groundling named Trinket, who gives the Home’s loneliest inhabitant two incredible gifts: a real name — Arthur, like the good king in the old stories — and a best friend. Using Trinket’s ingenious invention, the pair escape over the wall and embark on an adventure that will take them out into the wider world and ultimately down the path of sweet Arthur’s true destiny. Richly imagined, with shimmering language, steampunk motifs, and gripping, magical plot twists, this high adventure fantasy is the debut novel of award-winning memoirist Mira Bartók and has already been put into development for a major motion picture.
Here is the Earphone award winning AudioFile magazine review:
Whatever your age, the adventures of part-human, part-animal Number 39 [Ed: This should be Number 13] and Trinket in Mira Bartók’s steampunk otherworld are captivating. Add Simon Vance’s enthusiastic narration, and this is an audiobook to be cherished. The plot, which is unique while paying homage to DAVID COPPERFIELD, WIND IN THE WILLOWS, and other classics, sets our “groundlings,” mild-mannered part-badger Number 39  and flightless-bird Trinket, in a horrible orphanage. After a madcap, daring escape, they search for Trinket’s family and Number 39’s [13’s] destiny. Set in a world of horse-drawn carriages, insect-machines, and flying bicycles, as well as humans and groundlings, the tale offers Vance a chance to invent a myriad of voices and to support the action with his usual attentive pacing. The results will charm young and old alike. A.C.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine