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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Storyteller

"Anna and Abel couldn’t be more different. They are both seventeen and in their last year of school, but while Anna lives in a nice old town house and comes from a well-to-do family, Abel, the school drug dealer, lives in a big, prisonlike tower block at the edge of town. Anna is afraid of him until she realizes that he is caring for his six-year-old sister on his own. Fascinated, Anna follows the two and listens as Abel tells little Micha the story of a tiny queen assailed by dark forces. It’s a beautiful fairy tale that Anna comes to see has a basis in reality. Abel is in real danger of losing Micha to their abusive father and to his own inability to make ends meet. Anna gradually falls in love with Abel, but when his “enemies” begin to turn up dead, she fears she has fallen for a murderer. Has she?
Award-winning author Antonia Michaelis moves in a bold new direction with her latest novel: a dark, haunting, contemporary story that is part mystery, part romance, and part melodrama."

When I first picked this up, I was expecting a sort of light read. Maybe that's my fault - the synopsis does talk about a murderer. But many YA books have murder and it doesn't tear you apart. And it wasn't that people were killed that made this book so different. It was everything else.

And it's everything else that keeps me from absolutely loving it. If I took away my emotions while reading this and just examined it on a level of technique and storytelling, my review would be quite different. I would be exalting everything that happens, because it reveals the complex layers of the characters, adds depth to the story, and it's art. And really, the fact that this book left me feeling so depressed and broken speaks to just how talented the writing is.

So really, my quandary is this: am I more willing to love books that have a happy ending than books like this? Because everything that happens in The Storyteller could happen in real life, and does happen. You see things like this on crime shows and in movies. But somehow it feels more real here. The fairy tale mixes with reality and helps set the terrible things in stark contrast. I think that the made-up world makes the real seem more real than maybe other fiction books do.

It does bother me that I can't love this book like I love my favorites. The writing was just so fantastic, and the entire book is brilliant. I'd recommend this book, but I'd have to warn you first. Don't expect a light, happy fairytale; you won't find one here.

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