Book Review by Aarene Storms: Far, Far Away

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal
Audiobook read by W. Morgan Sheppard

What follows is the strange and fateful tale of a boy, and girl, and a ghost. The boy possessed uncommon qualities, the girl was winsome and darling, and the ancient ghost... well, let it only be said that his intentions were good.

So begins the unusually compelling story of Jeremy Johnson Johnson (not a typo, his parents both were named "Johnson"), who can hear the ghostly voice of Jacob Grimm, one of the famous collectors of fairy tales. Jeremy and his father live in a small mid-western town where nothing of interest ever happens... except that an unusual number of young people have gone missing over the years.  

Jacob Grimm narrates the story from beyond the grave, noting the folkloric elements that seem, coincidentally, to exist in Jeremy's town: the disappearing children, a hooded woman, an enormous oven, a forbidden door, and a mysterious dwarf-like man who may (or may not) have dark intentions. And yet, the darkness implied by the fairy tale motifs is not a coincidence. Something dark and horrible is at work in the town, and Jeremy is the innocent who is slated as the next sacrifice.

I had hoped for a lighter, happier book, but the dark and awful qualities of this story were more fascinating than I had imagined. Those readers (like me) who want a "happy ever after" ending will not be dissatisfied, but be warned: the path to that ending is long and harrowing and might not  be exactly what the reader imagines.

No cussing, no sex. A few kisses (kisses are important in fairy tales) and some violence including bullying and some scary forcible abductions. Recommended for readers ages 14 to adult.

The events may not have happened; still, the story is true.  --R. Silvern

Aarene Storms, youth services librarian
Richmond Beach and Lake Forest Park Libraries, KCLS


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