Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis: review

Goodreads rating: 4.17
Paperback, Uncorrected proof edition, 402 pages
Published January 2012 by Amulet Books (first published February 1st 2011)
Source: ARC sent from publisher

A good girl. A bad boy. A fairy tale that's true. A truth that is no fairy tale.

Anna is fascinated by Abel, the moody school drug dealer with the military haircut and deep blue eyes. One day she discovers a secret: Abel is caring for his six-year-old sister, Micha, alone. Despite friends' warnings, Anna is drawn to Abel and Micha, and is under the spell of the fairy tale that he tells his sister abotu a little orphan queen, who is pursued by hunters for the treasure she carries her diamond heart.

It's a story with parallels to reality. Social services and Micha's abusive father could take her from Abel if they discover the truth about their situation.

But when people Abel has woven into his story turn up dead, it's Anna whose hear is in danger. Is she in love with a killer?

Antonia Michaelis has written a spellbinding tale of suspense, murder, and a love that changes everything.
This is another review where I'm sick when I'm writing it, and actually a good chunk of what I have to say may be in the spoilers section I have of this review. This book is (excuse my language) bat-shit crazy! And I decided that it's in a good way and a bad way. The good way is that it really kept me on the edge of my seat and made me stay up way later than I had planned to finish it. The bad way is that there's just so much bad stuff that happens and everything starts to snowball that you just have to wonder what this author must have been thinking. But on top of all that, it's really brilliant. This author managed to write two stories (one a fairytale and one real life) and intertwined them in such a way that they could have stood separately on their own, but were made better by being together. Our main character, Anna, finds herself attracted to the drug dealer of her high school. Since this takes place in Germany (and is translated from German), it was hard to connect with the modern place they were in, but once you got to the fairytale part, it was familiar territory. Anna gets to know Abel, and eventually figures out that he has a sister that he's taking care of by himself, which is why he sells drugs. So Anna's pretty much lost now in the bad boy. But there's so much more. SO MUCH MORE!

I wouldn't say there's really a romance here. Abel is more than a bad boy. He's really closed off, and I think the only reason he even lets Anna hang out with him and his sister is that Micha likes her and Anna is obsessed with bumping into them at places she knows they'll be. But, I mean, this boy is broken. Like, beyond broken. I can't deny though that he takes really good care of his sister, and Anna inevitably becomes part of not only their group, but she also becomes part of the story that Abel continues telling his sister from well before this book begins. But it's like he has no control over the story, so when something happens in the story, it ends up sort of coming about the same way in real life. Oh, and Anna also has a sort-of-stalker. I totally forget his name but he's scary. I never really suspected him of being the killer. But he's really protective of Anna even though she's obviously not interested in him, and still ends up sort of popping up a couple times that she needs him. There were very few moments of happiness in this book, and they happened either with Micha or when Abel actually dropped his walls for a few seconds and kissed Anna. Those moments didn't last for long.

I think one of the hardest things about this book, besides the craziness near the end, was that it was translated from German to English, and I know there are some phrases from other languages that just don't translate. The dialogue also felt off a lot, but it's something you really grow used to as you read on. This story is most definitely not for the faint of heart. You think it's going to be light because it has a boy telling a fairytale to his little sister. I thought the same thing. But I was so wrong. As soon as I finished this book, and by that point I was crying, I had to write a frickin' poem to get all of the feels out. I have never EVER had to do that before with a book. In fact, I haven't written poetry in like three years. I guess a crazy book makes you do crazy things. But it was still amazingly brilliant. I expected the fairytale to be sort of secondary and something I could skip over, but whatever big thing happened in the story either just happened in real life, or would happen soon. Michaelis was just genius in wrapping these beautiful, broken characters into two very definitive but still very much connected stories, and making it into a total shock and sob fest. Like I said, this book is not for the faint of heart, but it was so worth the read!


Let me just start with the crazy stuff that happened before that tragic ending. Okay, so the first person that gets killed is Micha's father, in the same way that the bad guy dies in the story. At this point I couldn't tell if Abel was a future-seer, but obviously that isn't true. I don't see how the social worker had to die, and I'm really glad the teacher ended up falling through the ice instead of Abel shooting him, so that he stayed alive. Now what shocked me... what didn't shock me? First, Abel rapes Anna, and I'm like WTF. Then she ignores him and I'm thinking good girl but you knew that wouldn't last for long. And the worst part of it is that she gets raped by him (and she's a virgin when it happens) and still wants to have sex with him! That just did not compute for me. And the ending. Oh, the ending! Michaelis wrote this book in such a way that you weren't sure if Abel really was the killer, but deep down you always kind of knew it. So he has sex with Anna (normal, non-rape, sex), but before that asks her if her parents would adopt Micha, which of course they would. He knows that the police know that he killed those two guys and nearly killed the teacher that was trying to help them find the mother (I couldn't believe that she had been dead all this time from suicide). So what does he do? Make sure Micha will be taken care of, waits until both Anna and Micha are downstairs and then just shoots himself in the face.... Like heh? Oh, but wait, before that we find out that he's able to keep both him and Micha afloat because he was raped by Micha's dad, but then came to realize that he could make money for letting men do that to him. God, this kid is so messed up!! I've never seen a more broken character, and I wish it had ended differently, but it had to happen that way. This is a pretty long spoilery paragraph but I just have to let it all out because it was killing me knowing this happened so unexpectedly. Alright, I'm done.

1 comment:

  1. I could not believe it either. Basically what happened to me tho was that the book started chipping away at my heart, smoothed it back together, ripped it and then shot me in the heart where it should have hurt. But strangely....I just feel really super empty right now. I didn't think it was gonna go down the dark path in the forbidden forest but IT DID. I was hoping no begging for it to be a happily ever after because you know...its a fairy tail and there's an adorable girl in there so it should be fine right? NOPE. Basically what I got was a ending that was patched up with red bloody threads (kudos if you get it :p) and an empty hole inside me. I'm not raging or anything, I just cant feel anything right now..... I want to read more of her books but Im kinda scared now....


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