{Review} The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis

Some books etch themselves into my mind, become part of me, my experience, my emotions.

The ones that do that best are those that sneak up on me, ingraining themselves without my even realizing it. Antonia Michaelis’ The Storyteller is one of those—it didn’t seize me, it gently corralled me before I knew I was lost to its power.

Embroiled in the fairy-tale woven into reality with magical words giving beauty to a dark and haunting edged world, Michaelis’ writing lulled me like a melody until the harsh reality clambered to wake me to the sorrow, the pain behind the beauty of The Storyteller’s reality.

I love this book, which combines Shakespearean tragedy laced with the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  

But, if it’s a Cinderella story you’re looking for The Storyteller isn’t for you. If it’s mystery with romance and sorrow you desire, it’s the perfect choice. This is magical realism at it finest, fused into a story of death, loss, love and triumph, where drama, beauty and symbolism entwine. 

Never had the sky been so high and blue, never had the branches of the trees along the river’s edge been so golden.  Never had the growing layer of ice on the water sparkled so brightly.  

Anna—the rose girl, Micah—the little queen with a diamond heart—and her brother Abel—the storyteller—come alive in a tale fraught with murder and danger set against fairy-tale beauty. Abel’s stories create a soft-cloud protection against danger. He creates a tale with references to the Sword of Damocles, a black ship on the horizon waiting for its time, a green ship offering hope for spring and rebirth, petals like snow falling from a thousand roses of white, red and pink. The beautiful imagery like a feast for the mind: A rosewood pier, a white beach and a silver gray dog with golden eyes coming out of the sea rise from Abel’s story into the harsh reality of life.

Mixing the beauty of poetry with the horror of murder, the sweetness of first love with the ugliness of a child in danger, I metaphorically careened on a breathless ride inevitably leading to a cataclysmic end.

Not a typical murder-mystery, yet one of the best books I’ve read.  Still, The Storyteller is not for everyone. 

It is for those who love a beautiful story, a dangerous tale. It’s for those who will treasure the devotion of a brother for his Little Queen Sister of the diamond heart. It’s for those who relish beautiful words and who believe that among beauty lies the tragedy of injustice. And, more than anything, The Storyteller is a novel for people wanting to be carried away by words and imagery and symbolism.

As the Little Queen Micah exclaimed,

Oh, if only I could spin a thread of moonlight! If only I could spin a thread of the froth on the waves to make clothes.

If only! If only life were as simple as a fairy-tale.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. (Particularly for people who love magical realism.)

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