far far away – by Tom McNeal

It says quite a lot about Jeremy Johnson Johnson that the strangest thing about him isn’t even the fact his mother and father both had the same last name. Jeremy once admitted he’s able to hear voices, and the townspeople of Never Better have treated him like an outsider since. After his mother left, his father became a recluse, and it’s been up to Jeremy to support the family. But it hasn’t been up to Jeremy alone. The truth is, Jeremy can hear voices. Or, specifically, one voice: the voice of the ghost of16030663 Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous writing duo, The Brothers Grimm. Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next. But when the provocative local girl Ginger Boultinghouse takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings. . .

Young adult veteran Tom McNeal (one half of the writing duo known as Laura & Tom McNeal) has crafted a novel at once warmhearted, compulsively readable, and altogether thrilling–and McNeal fans of their tautly told stories will not be disappointed. – Goodreads.com

This was probably not a book I’d normally read, but with all the remakes of fairy tales these days in TV and movies, I thought, “Why not try it?”  Plus, there was a ghost.  It was unlike anything I’ve ever read, and I’m glad I took a chance on this book.

The plot was well-paced and took me in unexpected directions.  As with fairy tales, especially Grimm, there were some very dark moments, but it was also a wonderful tale of adventure, fantasy, mystery, a little romance and comedy.

The characters were odd, quirky, imperfect, and hilarious.  I laughed out loud more than once and although ambivalent at first, I quickly added Ginger Boultinghouse to my list of favorite characters.  She was straightforward, sometimes inappropriate, mischievous, and although misguided at times, attempts to do the right thing.  The relationship between Jeremy and Jacob was heartwarming.  Jacob came at a time when Jeremy very much needed someone in his life and although a ghost, Jacob acted as both a friend and paternal figure.

This was an entertaining read and I would highly recommend it to 10+ age middle grade and adults who love fairy tales.

This review was based on a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.

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