Hardcover, 416 pages
Published January 1st 2012 by Amulet Books
Description via Goodreads:
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.
My thanks go to Amulet Books for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is a book that completely and utterly blew me away! I admit that I was a little daunted by it at first. The premise sounded good, but I was slightly unsure about the fairy tale element of it - a lot of the time, this just doesn't work for me. This also book is reasonably thick with small font, and I always have to finish books that I start, so I really, really hoped that this was good. The Storyteller wasn't good though, it was amazing. I don't know if much was lost in translation from German to English, but the result was still beautiful.
This book seems to have a little something for everyone. I'd class it as Young Adult, but it is bordering on being adult fiction. There is a contemporary, somewhat coming of age aspect to this book. There are mysteries, at points it becomes a thriller with crimes that we are wanting to solve. There is a fantasy aspect, as The Storyteller tells us a fairy tale - but it's also very much real, the events in the story reflecting real-life. The fairytale is a form of escapism against the harsh reality and a form of communication between our three main characters.
This is a very vivid and dark novel. I wouldn't say that it's sinister as such, but there is something about it that is haunting and disturbing. It deals with a whole lot of very difficult subjects. The setting feels stark, cold and true to life. The pace is quite relaxed from the beginning until the last quarter of the book, where things really speed up. Although the pace was relaxed, I never became bored. Reading about both the fairy tale world and the real world was equally fascinating. There was always something that I wanted to know more about, especially when we were given not one, but two murder mysteries.
We are introduced to a lot of different characters in this story but, thankfully, it doesn't become confusing. Every character plays an important part and have strong foundations. Our main characters are Anna, a girl from a well-to-do family and an intriguing boy whom she meets at her school, Abel, who lives with his young sister, Micha, in a prison-like tower block. All three of these characters are unbelievably complex and watching their relationships develop and change is very interesting. Their worlds are very different, but seeing how they work together and the contrast of their lives has a very strong effect. Anna and Abel's relationship was hesitant but natural. They certainly worked well together and the chemistry was there.
Abel does everything he can to protect his little sister, Micha - he is more of a father figure to her. This protectiveness is admirable and understandable. It really made me warm to Abel, despite some uncertainty that I did have about him. He is such a well developed character and I really did sympathise with him. At points I adored him and at points I simply hated his choices. There is a lot of different layers to him and towards the end, when I was discovering more and more about him, it actually became a little painful. It was heart and gut wrenching. During the last quarter of the book, my emotions were thrown around a lot, with Michaelis revealing so many secrets and some of the answers to questions that were in the back of my mind from the start. I can imagine that a lot of people will be displeased with what happens nearing the end as it is shocking and very raw - the author doesn't hold anything back.
There is a lot more to this book than I can mention in a review, especially without including spoilers. I would recommend this to anyone who is aged 16+ who feels as though they could deal with some dark issues and that want a thrilling, enthralling read. Prepare to have your emotions tested and to have story stay with you for a long time after finishing it. I wouldn't hesitate to pick up another book by Michaelis, this was very different and truly fantastic. A book that certainly makes an impact.