Monday, October 28, 2013

Charm & Strange: A Review

Author: Stephanie Kuehn
Info: St. Martin's Griffin, copyright 2013, 224 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): "Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself"...and the wolf that lives inside him.

When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . . 

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself. 

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable. 

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present. 

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.

~Goodreads Description~

The Breakdown
Win is living with a wolf inside of him,  He's dangerous, unpredictable, and terrified that his season of change will be coming soon.  His violent past always bubbles right beneath the surface, and unless he can face it head on, the wolf might over take him.

The Awesome
This book is subtle.  The author does a fantastic job of releasing information gradually, in bits and pieces.  Part of the time you're trying to figure out what is really going on, but then you realize that Win is experiencing the same feelings.  He's on edge at all times, lingering just on the edges of sanity.

The Not So Awesome
The not really knowing what's going on gets in the way a bit.  I'm pretty sure that was the intent, but it was frustrating after awhile.  Luckily the book was short.  Not too short, but short enough that the frustration didn't become unbearable.  I had several "I know what's going on" moments followed closely by "Do I really know what's going on?" moments.

Warning...this is a dark story.  Stephanie Kuehn tells a story that is, sadly, all too real.  Saying anything really gives too much away, and I'd hate to spoil it for the next reader :)  This is one I find hard to say I liked, but I was definitely surprised and impressed by the unique storytelling and style.  It's a quick read, so consider picking it up at your local library.


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