A dark contemporary fairy tale
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, specificially, 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. . .
Young adult veteran Tom McNeal (one half of the writing duo known as Laura & Tom McNeal) has crafted a novel at once warmhearted, compulsively readable, and altogether thrilling--and McNeal fans of their tautly told stories will not be disappointed.
This book was very different from what I have been reading lately. It was described as a "dark, contemporary fairy tale" and I thought that was an accurate description. It was an interesting mix of all of those. As I was reading it the story felt very much like an old fashioned fairy tale. It had a bit of a slow build up but it kept my attention and as I became more engrossed in it I sometimes forgot this was a contemporary setting.
The little town of Never Better includes an odd assortment of residents. Jeremy is a lonely teen boy who has become an outcast because he admitted to hearing voices of ghosts. He lives alone with his odd father, in an odd bookstore in an odd town. Jacob Grimm (of the famous Grimm Brothers) is an old ghost, companion and protector of the boy from an unknown threat. He is also the narrator who weaves his past and Jeremy's present together through alternating chapters. It is his voice That Jeremy hears although he now keeps it a secret. When Ginger, an adventurous teen, becomes interested in Jeremy, they set in motion a change of events that changes everyone's lives.
I wasn't sure how this would all come together but the author did it well. The suspense built into a dramatic ending. This was my first book by Tom McNeal but it won't be my last. I would especially recommend this for those who enjoy the style of classic fairy tales.
Thank you to NetGalley for an arc ebook in exchange for my honest review.
Release date: 6/11/13
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 384 (hardcover)
Type: YA fantasy