If you’ve ever heard M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin speak, you’ll know that a collaboration between the two could only amount to something special. And highly intelligent. And different. And thoughtful. And … everything.
Because their work on The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge has already garnered a mass amount of publicity, including a number of starred reviews and is long-listed for the National Book Award, why would I talk abut it here?
The reason: When I went to place a hold on it through my local library system – I figured I might have to wait in line – I found there were a number of copies just sitting on the shelves. Even today, 6 of the 8 copies are available for checkout.
And so I’m giving a shout-out to a book that isn’t in my normal wheelhouse.
The plot, at the outset, sounds simple. Curmudgeonly historian Brangwain Spurge has been catapulted over the mountains by the elfin nation to deliver an artifact to the goblins, a peace offering, he’s told, that may ease the rift that has continued for a century. Poor Brangwain’s travels are anything but smooth. Perhaps worse, he is not taken to the goblin leader but is instead, hosted by Werfel, an enthusiastic archivist who has the notion that they will become true professional camrades. Brangwain Spurge just wants to fulfill his obligations. What happens next is a series of misunderstanding, missteps, and misguided missives (we see these in Eugene Yelchin’s wonderful illustration) that have us wondering exactly how there could ever be a satisfying conclusion.
Here’s where this book veers far from average. As you read, you’ll soon discover that you’re not only involved in an adventure, but a political commentary, a satire, an allegory, a case of unreliable narrators, and a work of undeniable excellence. Oh, and you can categorize it as a road-trip story, too. I see The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge being taught in high school and college courses. I can also see MG and YA readers lapping it up for the plot and for the pictures. And don’t gloss over those pictures; they are a layer unto themselves.
This book will not be for every reader. But it’s not intended to be. It wasn’t for me. And then, it was. A must read!
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