I had a hard time with the beginning of this book. I think that was more of me being in a slump than it was the book’s fault but it wasn’t until about 80 pages in that I started to enjoy myself.
I, like most people I know, am fascinated with the World Wars so it helped that the novel was set in England during that time. Even though David spends little time in our world during the course of the novel, it is still very much a coming of age story set in a war.
What I did enjoy about this book was how it took well-known fairy tales and flipped them on their heads. I loved the description of Snow White who was definitely not what David nor I was imagining. Really, most of the descriptions were great and evoked quite the mental image. See: “She giggled and buried her chin in her chest. The action created so many ripples of fat that her head looked as if it was melting” (page 133). Also, without getting spoiler-y I liked that “lived happily ever after” meant “was eaten quickly”.
I was surprised at David’s capability to harm others but then again, so was he. It was refreshing to see a character affected by the violent acts he committed and I don’t remember seeing anything like this in any of my recent reads. It’s hard to remember that David is a 12-year old boy because he goes off on a quest and is a bit more mature than I remember being at 12 years old. Seeing him puke after doing something violent is a subtle reminder of his youth and his fragility.
The Crooked Man was an interesting figure and I couldn’t wait to learn more about him. I began to figure out his identity around page 230 and that made me even more interested. I think any intelligent reader can figure out some of his deception but again, this did not make the character any less compelling. When reading about the treasures he has in his thousands of rooms you really see how twisted he is.
The pack of Loups and wolves chasing the main character added an element of suspense, especially when they start to close in on David. I instantly hated the character of Leroi and for some reason I can’t stop picturing him as WereGarurumon even though that minimally lines up with his description. I guess I’ve just been playing too much Digimon but that’s neither here nor there. It was interesting to see him skirt the line between man and animal. It seemed to me that these two forces (the Crooked Man and the Loups) would collide at some point and David would need to rely on his cunning to survive.
I did not expect the King to be who he was. It made a world of difference to the plot that he and David were connected. It also helped that he went through a similar experience as David in regards to the family dynamic.
In the end, I was quite pleased with this book, even though it took me a while to get into it. Other than that I found a grammar mistake which took me out of the novel but it was still enjoyable.