Published: 11th June 2011
By: St. Martin's Griffin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I don't quite know how to review this book. I went into it expecting something completely different than what I actually got, so I'd recommend going into this book blind. Don't read the blurb, and definitely don't pay any attention to the tags on Goodreads.
It took me a while to figure out that I wasn't going to get what I thought with this one, which made me feel that it was quite weird in the beginning, and I was wondering when we were going to get to the pinnacle of the story, the werewolves, as was my understanding. And I was close to the home run before things finally clicked into place for me.
This book is written from the perspective of Andrew, the ten year old boy of 'before', and Win, 'after', who's now sixteen. In the past, we learn about his relationship with his family. His older brother Keith, who does his best to protect and care for Andrew, even though he's only four years older than him. His younger sister Siobhan, who's three years younger, and who he adores. He's remembering one summer when he went to stay with his grandparents, and his three cousins were there. Andrew doesn't seem to have much relationship with anyone other than his siblings. He's quite odd, and everyone was just generally mean to him. And all the while, his mother is at home in bed apparently suffering from depression.
Win, has many problems. He thinks there's a wolf inside of him, just waiting to be released. When things finally come to a head one night, and Win eventually cracks, thankfully, he has friends with him who are looking out for him. They immediately get him the help he needs.
This is not the type of book I regularly read. That's not to say I haven't read this type of book, but I like to be prepared if I'm going to. When I finished this book I just cried. And the horrible feelings that this book brought out in me, stayed with me over the next couple of days. I'm aware of the animals that live alongside us. I have my own children, it's something I'm constantly vigilant of. But in reading, I like escapism. If I'm going to be left with lingering feelings over a book, I like them to be happy, giddy ones.
On the whole though, when I looked back on this book after realising what was actually going on, it was an exceptionally well written book. Had I actually known what I was going to be reading and was clued in from the start, this would have had a higher rating, as I'm not sure I've ever read a book with such a complex way of telling it's story. Stephanie Kuehn is an extremely talented author and deserves a lot of praise for her execution of Charm & Strange. And while I wouldn't have read it had I known it's content, I'm glad I did, just to experience this authors work. I will be interested in reading more of her work in the future.
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