In a small town where nothing ever happens, everything is about to change...
Tom McNeal was born and raised in Santa Ana, California, but spent part of every summer at the Nebraska farm where his mother grew up. After earning a BA in English at UC Berkeley and an MFA in Creative Writing at UC Irvine, he became a teacher. He now lives in southern California with his wife and two sons.
Gr 6 Up-McNeal spins a tale fluctuating from whimsy to macabre in such a beguiling voice that-like Hansel and Gretel-readers won't realize they're enmeshed in his dangerous seduction until it's too late. The book is narrated by the ghost of Jacob Grimm (yes, that one), unhappily caught in the Zwischenraum (a plane of existence between life and death). For now, he is the nearly constant companion of Jeremy Johnson Johnson, who can hear Grimm's voice when he presses a finger to his right temple. He's also heard the voices of his dying mother and grandfather. This ability has made him an object of derision for many in his little town, though-thrillingly-not to the electrifyingly vibrant Ginger Boultinghouse, who is more than happy to lure Jeremy into more trouble than he's ever encountered. Grimm tries to be the voice of reason-to keep Jeremy safe-but few things are as they initially seem in the town of Never Better and it's difficult to know the difference between hazard and opportunity. It's also hard to know the good folk from the bad and that's because so many of McNeal's characters are complex and have conflicted motivations. When is a bully not so bad? Where's the line between justifiable grief and parental neglect? Can an older man love a teenager in a way that's not creepy? How do stories nourish us? At what point do they stifle us? All these questions, and many more, are raised in this folklore-inflected, adventurous, romantic fantasy. Whether readers connect more deeply with the suspense, the magical elements, or the gloriously improbable love story, they will come away with a lingering taste of enchantment.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
"Sprightly, assured, and original" The Horn Book Review "Whether readers connect more deeply with the suspense, the magical elements, or the gloriously improbable love story, they will come away with a lingering taste of enchantment." School Library Journal "A fantastic tale, seamlessly told." -- Ann Giles The Bookwitch "McNeal weaves in fantastical fairy-tale details into this inventive and deeply poignant narrative, creating a world that hovers between realism and enchantment" Publishers Weekly "Reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel, and rife with allusions to Grimm Brothers' tales, this is a masterful story of outcasts, the power of faith, and the triumph of good over evil." Booklist