Hey All! It's the last Friday of the month, and that means it's time once again for the Cephalopod Coffeehouse. This wonderful group is hosted by The Armchair Squid, and if you are interested in joining or finding out more, go take a peek at his blog to sign up and/or gather more info.
This month, I'd like to discuss Far, Far Away, by Tom McNeal. I was drawn to this book because I am a huge fan of Grimm's Fairy Tales. If you looked on my nightstand right now, you'd find a very worn copy sitting there. (It's actually the second hard cover copy I've had to purchase since the first's spine ripped straight away I read it so often.) What does Far, Far Away have to do with Grimm's Fairy Tales, you ask? The main character, one that's most unfortunately named Jeremy Johnson Johnson, is haunted by the ghost of one of the brothers Grimm, Jacob Grimm, to be exact.
I may be partial to my copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales but that hasn't stopped me from reading any other fairy tales I can get my hands on in any way, shape or form they are presented. Writing modern day fairy tales is no easy feat, but I believe McNeal is successful in his attempt with Far, Far Away. That having been said, I'm not entirely certain I would have loved this book quite as much, if it weren't for the ghostly presence and influence of one Mr. Jacob Grimm. His ability to whisper in Jeremy's ear and impart his snarky, ancient German wisdom and idioms, were the key to this book's success, in my mind's eye. Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from evil and reminding him repeatedly to remember his "studies". Jacob knows studying and getting a quality education is the key to what Johnson desires more than anything else, to get out of the heck out of the town of Never Better.
Never Better is a modern town that has electronics at it's disposal like cell phones and television yet, it remains the kind of small town that is ultimately timeless. Old habits, prejudices and customs die hard in Never Better. It provides the perfect setting for this dark fairy tale.
Although he tries his corporal best, Jacob Grimm can't protect Jeremy from everything. And he immediately smells trouble when the unpredictable Ginger Boultinghouse takes a liking to Jeremy. Especially since her interest in him just happens to spike when she takes her first bite of a Prince cake that only the Never Better bakery can produce, and is reportedly so delicious it’s thought to be bewitched. Jeremy's own mother was rumored to have fallen under the very same spell of the cakes, when she ran off with another man, leaving Jeremy and his father to fend for themselves. I don't like to include too many spoilers in my reviews, so I'd like leave the rest of the plot twists here a mystery.
This book does contain an overall creepy, dark theme (like a lot of fairy tales) but is in no way overtly scary or demented. It's perfectly appropriate for anyone aged twelve and up. There is a fair amount of humor and sarcasm brilliantly woven into the ethereal voice of Jacob Grimm that I just adored and don't think any Grimm fan should miss out on. Overall, I really enjoyed this fairy tale and would give it a four out of a five star rating.
What's the best book you read this month? Anyone else a huge fan of the Brother's Grimm? What's your favorite fairy tale? Interested in joining the Cephalopod Coffeehouse? Don't forget to stop by The Armchair Squid's blog and check it out!
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