The Storyteller

The Storyteller

4.5 14
by Antonia Michaelis

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Anna and Abel couldn’t be more different. They are both seventeen and in their last year of school, but while Anna lives in a nice old town house and comes from a well-to-do family, Abel, the school drug dealer, lives in a big, prisonlike tower block at the edge of town. Anna is afraid of him until she realizes that he is caring for his six-year-old

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Anna and Abel couldn’t be more different. They are both seventeen and in their last year of school, but while Anna lives in a nice old town house and comes from a well-to-do family, Abel, the school drug dealer, lives in a big, prisonlike tower block at the edge of town. Anna is afraid of him until she realizes that he is caring for his six-year-old sister on his own. Fascinated, Anna follows the two and listens as Abel tells little Micha the story of a tiny queen assailed by dark forces. It’s a beautiful fairy tale that Anna comes to see has a basis in reality. Abel is in real danger of losing Micha to their abusive father and to his own inability to make ends meet. Anna gradually falls in love with Abel, but when his “enemies†? begin to turn up dead, she fears she has fallen for a murderer. Has she?

Award-winning author Antonia Michaelis moves in a bold new direction with her latest novel: a dark, haunting, contemporary story that is part mystery, part romance, and part melodrama.


Praise for The Storyteller
“Michaelis crafts a beautifully written, carefully constructed mystery and love story that will capture the both the reader’s imagination and heart from the first page. The novel weaves a sad and loving spell...this suspenseful, often violent, read will haunt readers long after its final page is turned.†?
†“Booklist, starred review

"The fairy tale is beautifully woven in and out of the contemporary scenes and the characters are well composed.
†“School Library Journal

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the dreary winter of an East German town, a small girl is in danger and a teenage girl is in love. Seventeen-year-old Anna Leemann is a "little lamb," a good girl, teased by her friends for being distanced from reality, who longs to break through her "soap bubble." Something in the cold blue eyes of the schoolyard drug dealer, Abel Tannatek, slices through that bubble and draws Anna in. Abel wants nothing to do with her; his smiles are reserved for his six-year-old sister, Micha, whose mother has disappeared and whose nefarious father is known to be lurking. Kind and gentle Anna uncharacteristically stalks them, refusing to take no for an answer, enthralled by the whimsical yet dark fairy tale she overhears Abel telling Micha. Anna succeeds in forcing her way into their lives, her innocence blinding her to the truths in Abel's shadowed narrative until it's too late. Michaelis's prose gets a top-notch translation, its dreamy, introspective quality shining through in a story about difficult love that will appeal most to readers who, like Anna, are on the brink of adulthood. Ages 16–up. Agent: Andrew Nurnberg Associates. (Jan.)
VOYA - Etienne Vallee
When high school senior Anna finds a small doll under a couch in the student lounge, she becomes involved in the lives of Abel and his sister, Micah. Abel, a classmate, peddles drugs and is very protective of his six-year-old sister. His mother disappeared three weeks ago, and now he is attempting to keep child services from taking Micah away from him. Anna discovers that Abel tells stories, and as she becomes a part of his life, she finds herself in the story. As one person after another is killed in their little town, Anna must decide whether she will stand by Abel against all odds, or if he is the killer and she will be his next victim. Michaelis draws inspiration from St. Exupery's The Little Prince, and the story-within-the-story parallels the events happening to the protagonists. The plot moves very slowly, and it is not until the middle of the book that the action develops. Drug and alcohol use, some questionable language, an extremely graphic rape scene, and Abel's suicide at the end make this book better suited for older high school students. Teens interested in the "stand by your man" philosophy will enjoy this book, but it will require some effort to promote it to a larger public. Reviewer: Etienne Vallee
Children's Literature - Janice DeLong
This dark novel begins with blood, and ends with blood. On each end of the story lies a suicide, with two other deaths thrown in. Readers know from the beginning that the narrator, Anna, a girl from an affluent German home will never find happiness with the outcast Polish drug dealer, Able, to whom she is so strongly drawn. Moments of light are few and far between in this ill-fated attraction. Peddling drugs, and pimping himself to older men are justified as the struggling high school student, Abel attempts to provide for his little sister, Micha. As the savior figure, Anna cannot leave the mysterious Abel alone, especially after she discovers that he is the surrogate parent and protector of Micha. Anna's parents are permissive by American standards, maintaining distance in Anna's life and decision making until they become the real savior figures in the end. Social drinking of wine and vodka, drugs, consensual sex and rape are strewn throughout the plot. Of course such an environment would not be complete without the obligatory profanity, with even the child using the "f" word in reference to the sex act. Perhaps the author had a YA audience in mind when she wrote this tale, but the desperate behaviors, violence, and depressing nature of the plot seem, at the very least, destructive to teen thinking. There is no hope, there is simply reliance on adults when all else has failed. In the end, readers can rejoice only in having completed a sad, meandering story, and be thankful that Anna's parents, whom she calls Magnus and Linda, are generous enough to adopt a parent-less waif. Not recommended for public or school libraries. Reviewer: Janice DeLong
ALAN Review - Grace Chee
Seventeen-year-old Anna seems to be living in a fairy tale, and not a happy one. It begins when she finds a little doll with a dangerous owner who also has a gift for storytelling. A notorious drug dealer and outcast, Abel is everything that Anna is not. Drawn to him and his mesmerizing stories, Anna begins to discover more about the boy with the icy eyes and Micha, the little sister he would die to protect. Is Abel truly dangerous? And how do his stories seem to predict the tragic events that are happening? As Anna falls deeper and deeper into Abel's stories, the lines of reality blur and the stakes become higher. Michaelis deftly interweaves truths and tales as she explores the harsh reality of family, love, and desperation. Reviewer: Grace Chee
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—In this novel set in contemporary Poland, Anna is a serious student living with her stable, loving parents. Abel is a mysterious outsider and the official drug dealer at their high school. When Anna decides to break out of her bubble by learning more about his life, she finds out that he's also a mesmerizing storyteller and sole caregiver for his six-year-old sister. Anna is quickly drawn into the fairy tale that Abel weaves to both entertain and protect Micha. Soon Anna becomes part of both the didactic tale and Abel's desperate attempts to keep Micha safe from her transient, predatory father and from being taken away by social services. As murder victims begin to pile up, Anna has to question what Abel might be capable of and whether or not that will change her budding love for him. Abel comes across as a sympathetic character, so his date rape of Anna comes as quite a shock. The scene is well written: graphic enough to be realistic, without being gratuitous. More disturbing is the second sex scene. Moments after confessing that he is an abuse survivor, murderer, and male prostitute who has come to equate sex with violence, Abel and Anna are suddenly having a sweet and pure sexual experience. This unrealistic turn of events is an unsatisfying conclusion to their difficult, if somewhat compelling, relationship. The fairy tale is beautifully woven in and out of the contemporary scenes and the characters are well composed. However, the dialogue in the contemporary scenes is stiff and awkward. The unrealistic plot makes this a book that will be hard for teens to relate to or enjoy.—Sunnie Sette, New Haven Public Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews
The course of true love definitely doesn't run smooth when it's a relationship with a self-abusing and abused drug dealer. Anna's initial attraction to moody, secretive classmate Abel firms up when she sees his total devotion to his little sister Micha and, with her, becomes wrapped up in a multi-episode tale he spins about a young Princess on the run from scary pursuers. There are warnings aplenty: Her friends caution her, Abel is obviously struggling to get by while claiming that his absent-for-weeks single mother would be back any time and the murders of Micha's violent, jailbird father and an insistent social worker. Nevertheless, Anna steadfastly sticks with him until, at last, he responds to her amorous advances by raping her--and confessing that he had been molested for years as a child. Anna finds her feelings for him unchanged, even after it comes out just how he had been supporting himself and Micha. Awarding Abel with the usual fate given fictive teens bearing so many inner (and outer) scars, Michaelis stirs snowy weather, Leonard Cohen lyrics, multiple corpses and an unusually rich array of lovable, hateful, loyal and treacherous supporting characters into a grim, bitter story that will leave all but the hardest readers shocked and sad. An unsettling tapestry of ugly secrets, violence, suspense, twisted motives and love's unfathomable ways. (Fiction. 14-18)

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Product Details

Amulet Books
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File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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