Thursday 6 February 2014

Review ~ Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville

Hamish Hamiliton
An imprint of Penguin UK
February 6 2014

This multi faceted story takes the concept of dark and turns it completely on its head. With a dual time setting the story takes us from fin-de-siècle Vienna in 1899 and follows the story of psychoanalyst, Josef Bruer’s quest to determine the identity of an extremely disturbed young woman who comes into his care. Years later, in Germany we meet Krysta, a little girl, who loses herself in the fairy tales of the Pied Piper and Hansel and Gretel, as the world around her goes mad.

The enduring symbolism of fairy tales forms the basis for this very dark story which takes us from the bleak awareness of mental incapacity, through to the terrors associated with Nazi Germany and yet it does so with a lightness of touch which belies the strength of its narrative. There is no doubt that the book gets its message across, those readers who are have read The Book Thief and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, will already be aware of innocuous terminology hiding something deeper and ultimately far more sinister. To dig any deeper into the overriding message of the book would be to give away far too much of the whole premise of the story and to discuss more of plot and malice would be to do the book and the author a complete disservice.

The book is complex, the author’s use of imagery and her ability to weave together two seemingly unrelated plots is commendable and quite enthralling, although it does take a while to get used to the style of writing and I can imagine that some people may want to give up early on. My advice is to stick at it and as the story starts to be revealed and the strands that weave the story together become entangled, it really does become compelling reading.

Recommended Read.

My thanks to Anna Ridley and Celeste Ward-Best at Penguin Books UK for my advance copy of this book and for allowing me access to the promotional video.


About the Author

Eliza Granville

Eliza Granville was born in Worcester and currently lives in Bath. She has had a life-long fascination with the enduring quality of fairy tales and their symbolism, and the idea for Gretel and the Dark was sparked when she became interested in the emphasis placed on these stories during the Third Reich.


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