Vienna, 1899. Josef Breuer—celebrated psychoanalyst—is about to encounter his strangest case yet. Found by the lunatic asylum, thin, head shaved, she claims to have no name, no feelings—to be, in fact, not even human. Intrigued, Breuer determines to fathom the roots of her disturbance.
Years later, in Germany, we meet Krysta. Krysta’s Papa is busy working in the infirmary with the ‘animal people,’ so little Krysta plays alone, lost in the stories of Hansel and Gretel, the Pied Piper, and more. And when everything changes and the world around her becomes as frightening as any fairy tale, Krysta finds her imagination holds powers beyond what she could have ever guessed…
As I’ve said countless times before, I’m not a huge historical fiction fan. I especially find myself having a hard time with World War II books because there are so many of them, and it’s hard to find a unique angle. I’ve only read a handful of successful books, and that’s because they were unique in some way.
I was really disappointed with this novel. First off, I wasn’t a fan of the alternating storyline. In each chapter, we go back and forth between the two stories and I just didn’t like it. It was jarring and while it wasn’t confusing, I just didn’t think it succeeded in what it needed to do.
I wasn’t really interested in any of the characters either. In fact, I found myself disliking most of them. They weren’t a very sympathetic bunch and I don’t think they were fully formed as characters go. It was a very static representation of their personalities. I felt utterly disconnected while I was reading about them.
I kept reading this novel because I was promised an amazing twist, and while I didn’t guess what the twist was, it wasn’t that big of a revelation. The writing wasn’t great, the plot wasn’t great, the characters weren’t great. This book was a pretty big let down.