Edited--I changed the ranking of this book because I simply CANNOT stop thinking about it. I've gone weeks and am still reminiscing about all the feeelings. And it's so well written. Sooo well written. And translated for that matter. So it got upgraded. And I might even recommend it to a few of you. (Holly Abbe, this book has you written all over it.) And there's probably going to be another post to discuss spoilers because I need to talk about it. Good Crimany, just put in on your bookclub reading list, because it will certainly inspire discussion. It still remains on the not for my daughters' eyes list. I'm like a kite in the wind.
The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis
This post may need to be edited in the future for right now I am simply angry at this book. Angry. And indignant. Antonia Michaelis is a talented, talented writer. Words move for her. And yet...
The writing is lovely and poetic. It takes itself a bit seriously, but not so much that you are constantly aware of it. It was first published in Germany (in German obviously) and perhaps that explains some of my hangups. Cultural norms. Those allowances accounted for, I am still indignant.
The author dances back and forth between fairytale and reality. I loved the fairytale sections of this book. Loved. They were poetic and beautiful. Haunting and descriptive. They explained aspects of the characters that pulled me closer emotionally. At times, the author gets a bit wordy, but I am an impatient squib and perhaps that's more a fault of mine than hers.
The plot keeps you guessing. Michaelis weaves a story that is unpredictable and alluring. It is not a story that I ever wished myself to be a part of, but I enjoyed the ride for three quarters of the journey.
An act of violence changes everything. For the characters, for the reader, for my review. But for this act and the way the author ultimately accepts the unforgivable, I would have rated the book much higher. The characters are flawed. I like that in my people. The protagonists are antagonists as well, and that makes things interesting. But for three pages...
For an adult novel, the justifications bother me. For a YA novel? Just no. I would not let my daughters read this book. I understand that some things are viewed differently in different cultures. But no. Any kind of justification for violence against women, whatever the circumstance, is unacceptable.
Tannatek-- Not a fan. I sympathized with this character and enjoy a good tortured soul. But no.
Anna-- She's in love after one stunted conversation? I understand they're teenagers and we're living in the land of Twilight, but no. There's naivete and then there's this. Woman-child needs therapy and stat.
Micha-- The most redeeming part of this book involves the spirit of this beautiful little girl. I pray that she spends more time with Linda than with Anna for the duration of her fictional life.
The Polish Peddler and our heroine Anna fall in love/fascination after one awkward conversation involving a ratty doll. I'm sure there was symbolism and that I simply missed it. Our peddler is the sole provider for himself and his younger half sister, Micha. He protects Micha from villains who want to steal her diamond heart, and ultimately finds himself committing the same heinous acts as those he despises most. It does not end well. Even though it kind of does.
I will not be reading this book again, but enjoyed the writing enough that I will possibly read another of this author's novels. Fingers crossed the overall take-away is a bit more palatable.