Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis


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

It begins the day Anna finds the child’s doll on the floor of the student lounge. When it’s claimed by Abel, the school drug dealer, Anna becomes determined to learn more about this mysterious boy with the military haircut and deep blue eyes. She follows him after school and discovers a secret: Abel is caring for his six-year-old sister, Micha, alone. Anna listens in as he tells her a fairy tale, the story of a little orphan queen pursued by hunters across the oceans for the treasure she carries: her pure, 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. Despite friends’ warnings, Anna is drawn to Abel and Micha, and falls under the spell of the story of the little queen and her desperate voyage.

But when people Abel has woven into his tale turns up dead, it’s Anna whose heart is in danger. Is she in love with a killer? And has she set out on a journey from which there is no return?

Number of pages: 416


Never before have I read a story like that of The Storyteller. In a way, Antonia’s story went above and beyond everything that I expected considering nothing is as expected in the lives of Anna, Abel, and Micha, but there was also a bit of a let down. Call me a sucker for happy endings, I guess.

 The Storyteller’s story in the book is unlike any fairy tale I have ever encountered. I really feel like someone was telling me the story rather than me just reading the words and absorbing them on the paper. Abel tells the story to Micha and Anna part by part as the story of their lives unfolds before them, inspiring the story of the little cliff queen (Micha). As I read the story and compared it to the fairytale, Antonia guided me through it, making me assume things and think that I had it all figured out way ahead of time. It was incredible really how I felt and thought exactly what the author wanted me to feel and think. There were parts where my original reactions to things described in the story made me want to fling the book far away, but then the author would describe something about the characters and the actions and it would just make me go along with it. It was as if she made me feel empathy for things that I would never usually feel for. She also made me think that I had all the puzzle pieces together even though I knew some pieces were missing. In reality, I had had all the pieces, just in a different order and waiting for new fabricated pieces to arrive. This all probably sound confusing the way I am explaining it, but this story is one that I can not explain in just simple words. It’s all about feeling it as you go along.

The writing was simply beautiful. It was poetic . . . lyrical even. Usually I tend to stray away from flowery writing because I get distracted in the detailed descriptions and what not. In this book, that was not the case (at least, not often). There was a slight change in writing style, I thought, between the story of their lives and the fairytale story. I assume it was because Abel was the one telling the fairytale story, not Antonia as the author. Antonia also wrote about very different characters, ones whose personalities and problems are not that of the ones I usually encounter. Take Abel for instance: he is as unique a character as I have ever read, but I didn’t even get to discover that until piece by piece the author revealed Abel at the end as he was meant to be. And Anna: she was one of those main heroines that you feel for and understand but also want to beat the crude out of her for the way she handles things or the way she reacts. Some of her actions seemed so na├»ve to me—or just stupid—but then the author was make me feel she was justified by doing that whole empathy thing again. In the end, I didn’t know whether to love or hate those two. Micha I adored, wholeheartedly. That little queen captured my heart from the start, and I ached over the things she went through and the things she saw during that cold winter in their little city in Germany. I can’t blame the author for anything that happened in the end because looking back I realized that I always knew this story of the little queen and her friends was one of heartbreak, which is exactly how I was left feeling. From 1-10? The brilliant work of tragedy is a 7 to me.

P.S. I feel like a heads up is in order. While this book was very good, I do not recommend it for those who are young. Many things happened in this book that are not G rated, nor do I think that all of it is comfortable reading about to some of you i.e. murder, drugs, rape etc.