Release Day BriefINK Review: ‘Far Far Away’ by Tom McNeal

Book Cover Far Far Away by Tom McNealBriefly: “Green smoke at midnight; Prince Cakes at first light.” The town baker, Sten Blix, only makes the Price Cakes on very special occasions, so you have to get there quick before they run out. It is said that whatever living thing you looked upon while tasting your first bite of a Prince Cake would steal your heart. So is that what has drawn Ginger Boultinghouse to Jeremy Johnson Johnson?

Jeremy is an odd sort. He lives with his father in the apartment behind his grandfather’s bookstore. They don’t have many customers, since the only book they sell is the biography of Jeremy’s grandfather who is now deceased. Jeremy’s mother left when he was in the first grade; it is said she left immediately with a stranger from Canada while eating her Prince Cake. The strangest thing is the voice he hears, a sort of guide and protector, who is the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one of the storytelling Grimm brothers. Jacob wants nothing more than to pass on to his final resting place, but he is doomed to travel the earth until he has completed a task.

Of course Jeremy’s father has never been the same since his wife left; in fact, he has not left the house since. Because the only income they get comes from the bookstore, the building is going to be foreclosed upon. It is up to Jeremy to try and think of a way out of this predicament, and when the opportunity comes for him to allow Jacob to help him in a quiz, he thinks all of his problems are solved.

But what of this undercurrent of evil that flows through their and neighboring towns? Over the past few years, children and teens have gone missing, slowly. Deputy McRaven feels it, and certainly Mrs. Truax who is still waiting for her little Possy to return home after so many years. What does Jacob know of The Finder of Occassions? The evil one who is looking for Jeremy? Can Jacob thwart The Finder so Jacob can finally leave the Zwischenraum, that area where the dead must stay until they do that which is undone?

Didja Like It?: What a funky little story. It is such a delicious mix of old-school fairy tale and modern-day problems. All at once a mystery, a story about finding someone who understands you, a folk tale. It definitely has a readability that feels old and new at the same time. Sort of Grimm + 50s Jeopardy! + small town + a little bit of contemporary.

Anything Else to Mention?: I was just completely mesmerized by the storytelling. Sometimes it bothers me that I can’t tell when a story is supposed to take place, but not here. You get a vague idea since TVs are spoken of, but other than that, the period could be any time in the last few decades..

To Read or Not To Read: Absolutely. If you like a mystery surrounded by delicious cake wrapped in a ghost, this is for you.

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal was published June 11, 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review. Big thanks to NetGalley, Knopf and Mr. McNeal.

Rating: 4

Genre: Young Adult Fiction Fantasy Paranormal Romance Mystery
Ages: 12 and up
You Might Want to Know: Nothing of note.

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