The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by MT. Anderson & E. Yelchin
Anderson, M.T. and Eugene Yelchin. The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge. Candlewick Press, 2018.
The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge throws the reader into a topsy-turvy wonderland with the gripping adventure of two unlikely heroes, Brangwain Spurge and Werfel the Archivist. These two historians find themselves caught in a myriad of misunderstandings as they meet at the crux of a diplomatic mission between their warring nations of elves and goblins. An elfin historian turned diplomat and spy, Spurge must confront his own deeply entrenched prejudices against goblins, while his enthusiastic and well-intentioned goblin host, Werfel, attempts to guide him through an unfamiliar culture. Through a series of entertaining mishaps and cultural misunderstandings, M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin use their vivid characters and narrative style to craft an enjoyable story with underlying messages about cultural conflict and the ways in which prejudice colours our view of others.
Most commendable in this book is the authors’ brilliant use of visual and text media to craft a work showing how individuals can understand the same events in wildly different ways. The mixed media drawings not only add a striking visual force to the novel, but they also serve a narrative function by showing the world through the eyes and imagination of Spurge. It becomes clear that Spurge’s understanding of his experiences conflicts with the more objective third-person account of events, illustrating how Spurge’s view of the world has been heavily skewed by his institutionalized prejudices. As Werfel quite wisely says: “Isn’t it so fascinating how in different countries, we have different views of the same events?”
This book is appropriate for the intended age group of individuals aged ten to fourteen, but it can also be enjoyed by older teens and adults. With its compelling design and timely messages, this book would be an excellent addition to school and public libraries.
Highly Recommended: 4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Arwen Thysse
Arwen Thysse is a graduate of the University of Alberta’s Bachelor of Arts program and the University of Toronto’s Master of Medieval Studies program. She is also an avid musician, and enjoys children’s books.
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