Review | Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Alice Alexis Queensmeadow 12 rates three things most important: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. Father disappeared from Ferenwood with only a ruler, almost three years ago. But she will have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is Oliver whose own magic is based in lies and deceit. Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.

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“She’d decided long ago that life was a long journey. She would be strong and she would be weak, and both would be okay.”

Fairytale retellings are my weakness, which is why I had to give Furthermore a read. Furthermore is inspired by Alice in Wonderland but, unlike many retellings that I’ve read, it heavily expands upon the source material and gives a legitimate purpose to Alice’s trip to Wonderland (in this case, given the name of Furthermore). The worlds of both Furthermore and Ferenwood were beautifully crafted – I especially loved how imaginative the origami district of Furthermore was.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I didn’t love Mafi’s Shatter Me series due to its overly flowery writing. With Furthermore, however, I found Mafi’s writing to be absolutely enchanting and her use of metaphors painted the most vivid landscapes. It may be that Mafi toned down her use of purple prose a bit or that the quirky nature of the Alice retelling lends itself perfectly to her particular writing style; either way, I was enthralled.

Furthermore is told in a second-person narration and brings a wonderfully quirky sense of humour to the story, peppering each chapter with wry observations and witty asides. There is a lot of repetition, but it works well given the story’s target age group.

My favourite part of Furthermore was the ship – something that I was surprised by, given that this is a middle-grade title. Alice is headstrong and impulsive, while Oliver is more cautious and patient. Their hate-to-friendship arc is absolutely adorable and filled with plenty of banter.

With any middle-grade title, there are plenty of important messages to be found: the importance of loving yourself for who you are, appreciating individuals for their differences, and learning that love can both hurt and heal.

Overall, Furthermore was an utterly charming, imaginative, and whimsical read. I’m genuinely impressed with the quality of writing and now feel like I need to read anything else that Mafi writes.

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