by Tom McNeal
YA/MG Fairy Tale
Amazon / Goodreads
Plot Summary:It says quite a lot about Jeremy Johnson Johnson that the strangest thing about him isn't even the fact his mother and father both had the same last name. Jeremy once admitted he's able to hear voices, and the townspeople of Never Better have treated him like an outsider since. After his mother left, his father became a recluse, and it's been up to Jeremy to support the family. But it hasn't been up to Jeremy alone. The truth is, Jeremy can hear voices. Or, specifically, one voice: the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous writing duo, The Brothers Grimm.
Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next. But when the provocative local girl Ginger Boultinghouse takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings....
Review:I was not expecting this book! I was under the impression that it's a middle grade read, but it has a sophistication that goes beyond that age range. I really connected with the characters and the story and found this book such an affecting read - so thoughtful, emotional, quirky and strange. The fairy tale is blended perfectly in with a modern feel and it captures the feelings and insecurities of childhood so well. The writing style is so expressive and exciting that even though I wasn't sure where the story was going, I was wrapped up in the lives of the characters and the drama of their relationships. This is a story that works on so many different levels.
The book is narrated by the ghost of Jacob Grimm, who was a fully imagined, deeply sympathetic character in this story. His accounts of Jeremy's life as well as the lives of some of the townspeople of Never Better were always interesting and colorful and understanding. And that subtlety to Jacob in how he told the story gave his character so much depth because it made him very realistic and true to what he had been when he was alive - a great storyteller. Jeremy is just as subtle and interesting a character as well. His dilemmas are ones that I think resonate with kids and showcase just how much Jeremy wants to find his own identity. He's led astray from his path sometimes, and he makes mistakes, but he becomes a stronger character because of it. With Jacob as his mentor, the two make a great duo against a hidden evil in their town.
I can't talk too much about the nature of the evil because it is a very clever twist, and one I think that really brought together a story that initially felt meandering and was character development heavy. Minor quibbles really because while the beginning progressed almost pointlessly (but still had many moments of interest) the story as a whole really impressed me and the last few chapters in particular were riveting. I really can't recommend this story enough. I thought it was a very poignant and evocative read, with flashes of humor and pathos and a love of stories and fairy tales bound up in the spirit of the narrative.
(I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.)