. Digital download via Overdrive
Perhaps I should start this review with full disclosure. Several months back when this first book arrived in the library, I picked it up, super excited to read it, especially since I was a huge fan of Breadcrumbs. I hate to say it, but I only got midway through. It seemed as though everywhere I turned, every review, blog, etc., was raving about this book, I was apparently the only person out there that just didn't get it. After about the 20th gushing review I read, I knew I had to give it another chance. Thank goodness I did. Oh, I get it now. I am a convert.
Oscar is very content being a hand to the only wizard in the Barrow, spending his time quietly behind the scenes gathering and preparing the herbs for Master Caleb. That all changes though when Master Caleb heads to the continent for business, leaving Wolf, the apprentice, and Oscar behind. Things take an unexpected turn when Wolf meets a terrible fate and Oscar now must run the shop in Master Caleb's absence. Preferring not to interact with cats over humans, Oscar struggles. Thank goodness he meets Callie, for every Oscar needs a Callie, a kind, gentle person to help teach, guide and encourage them. The two begin not only a working relationship, but a true friendship. When things start to go terribly wrong in Asteri, Master Caleb's greenhouse is destroyed, city children become sick and everyone believes a giant bear is on the loose, Oscar and Callie do everything they can to make sense of it all and save the sick children and town before it is too late.
Chris Sorenson did an amazing job narrating this story. He did a great job differentiating the characters voices, making them sound pretty darn close to how I had had them sounding when I originally picked up the book. I also enjoyed his pacing of the story. It was as though he was appreciating every word that Anne Ursu had written and wanting to make them count.
Here are some photos I took while walking and listening to The Real Boy.