Book Review: The Orphanage of Miracles by Amy Neftzger

The Orphanage of Miracles by Amy Neftzger is a unique middle grade novel about two very different journeys that come together to help the land. A sorcerer has tried to conquer the land cast a spell that makes it difficult for people to see things as they really are, and many are coming to believe that the war between their king and the sorcerer is not real. There is an orphanage within an enchanted forest in which miracles are protected while its residents strive to create more. Nicholas, Jovan, and Maggie are three orphans striving to find answers while not getting into trouble for their efforts, and struggling to figure out the process of miracle creation. Kelsey has left her family in search for a miracle, the orphanage might just be her answer. An her journey she is joined by a silent boy and a snow leopard.  As the story toggles between Nicholas and Kelsey readers get a look at the interior of the orphanage and Kelsey's journey there. Will anyone find the answers they are looking for, or will they discover that they have not been asking the correct questions?

I was in a reading slump, where everything seemed to just seem blah or the same as everything else in its genre. However, The Orphanage of Miracles and one other book I recently finished broke through that feeling. This story might seem like the basic fantasy quest story, a young girl leaves home to seek help for her village only to discover that the larger world is not what she expects, and the companions she gathers on her way are equally as unexpected. I greatly enjoyed the characters, and the repeated tableaus that helped Kelsey grow and become more aware of the bigger picture. I also loved the juxtaposition between Kelsey's journey and the interior quest of Nicholas, Jovan, and Maggie as they seek answers in an environment that seems to prefer ignorance. Their answer seeking is just as challenging in some ways as the physical search by Kelsey.

I highly recommend The Orphanage of Miracles to readers that enjoy epic fantasy, coming of age stories, and novels that are simply well done and far from a cookie cutter tale. Readers of the middle grade set and older will enjoy this book, particularly if they enjoy fantasy or action adventure stories.
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