Fairy tales are often the cruelest stories of all; in this exquisite novel Sally Gardner writes about great love and great loss.
Let’s just start off with the most important part of this book.
I know it should probably be the words, and they are impressive but the art is just so haunting and beautiful, they set the mood for the story and enhance the dark fairytale that Gardner writes.
I love the tale, it has all the elements of a traditional fairytale, and just like a traditional tale, it’s unapologetically dark. It’s for older MG readers, especially those who enjoy darker tales.
Otto finds himself able to say no to Death and begin an adventure thanks to a mysterious being and their gift of some very special dice. This also sets Otto on a path of finding a mysterious girl who he finds himself unable to stop thinking of long after she’s out of his sight.
Again the art is such an enhancer to this tale, I loved watching the story unfold through the pictures, you can tell it’s only going to get darker as Otto’s adventure continues, including the important requisition of a seemingly ordinary tinderbox.
Deciding he has to find the mysterious girl again, he ends up in the town she’s from and while he thinks it will be a simple matter of getting to see her, other forces are at work.
Otto is suspected of being a werewolf but little do people know that while the attacks are indeed vicious and animal-like they have nothing to do with Otto or the fact that he has knowledge of werewolves.
You are torn knowing that Otto is holding something very important back from his lover, no longer a mystery girl, and wanting a happy ending.
Gardner though isn’t going to soften up this dark tale.
There are so many things to love but in the end this was an average read for me for one reason only, I couldn’t connect to the story as much as I wanted to. While beautiful it wasn’t something that I felt myself truly falling into, I was always constantly aware that it was just lacking that special something for me.
3/5 solid cups of coffee from me and I am glad I’ve now read my second Gardner book.