The team has come together again to bring you our thoughts on an intriguing middle-grade offering that acknowledges the power of stories to manipulate the mundane world. We received a copy of Tell the Story to its End (which also goes by the title Eren) by Simon P. Clark from the publisher via Netgalley, and were pleased to discover an atmospheric and nicely paced tale that lulls the reader into a place of comfort…or does it? Mwahahahaha!
Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
People are keeping secrets from Oli. His mum has brought him to stay with his aunt and uncle in the countryside, but nobody will tell him why his dad where his father is. Why isn’t he with them? Has something happened? Oli has a hundred questions, and only an old, empty house in the middle of an ancient forest for answers. But then he finds a secret of his own: there is a creature that lives in the attic…
Eren is not human.
Eren is hungry for stories.
Eren has been waiting for him.
Sharing his stories with Eren, Oli starts to make sense of what’s happening downstairs with his family. But what if it’s a trap? Soon, Oli must make a choice: learn the truth—or abandon himself to Eren’s world, forever.
Reminiscent of SKELLIG by David Almond and A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness, EREN is richly atmospheric, moving, unsettling, and told in gorgeous prose. A modern classic in the making.
Here are the two versions of the cover:
And here’s the Club’s thoughts:
If you fail to master your words, your words may become your master. Such is the power of stories, fables, myths, to change the way we think, the way we act and the way we are. Are we the product of our ancestors’ stories or do we create our own narrative? What happens to the stories that have faded from human memory? And is the book always better than the movie? These are the questions that Oli will explore with his new, mysterious friend, Eren. Well. Except for that last one.
There are no dragons in this book. But there is a cool talking cat and a king of trees and a strange winged guy called Eren who hides in attics and really likes stories. He sounds a bit like Bruce really. There’s not a lot of whiz-bang action in this book. It would have been better if Eren was the kind of monster that eats people. There was a cool story about a witch too. This was an okay book but it would have been better with dragons.
There once was a boy called Oli,
Who truly enjoyed a good sto’ry,
Do he and his friends,
Come to grief in the end?
You’ll just have to read to be sure-y.
*Toothless interjects: Worst. Limerick. Ever. *
You know how books often have some comparison on the cover, like “if you liked *insert series name here*, then you’ll love this!” or “for fans of *insert author here*”. Most of the time, the book ends up being nothing like the assertion, but Tell the Story to its End really IS a lot like the work of David Almond. If you enjoy the feel of Almond’s work, then I can assure you that this book has a very similar narrative style, comparable pacing and more than a touch of the ol’ magical realism.
This book isn’t going to appeal to all readers in the target age bracket, but will certainly suit those who like a slow-burn mystery and stories-within-stories. Oli is your average young lad who finds himself suddenly moving to the country with his mother, to live with her brother, for reasons that he’s not exactly clear about. His mother is keeping some sort of secret about his father, and while Oli puzzles this out, he discovers the mysterious Eren living in the attic.
The addition of two other young folk, Em and Takeru, whom Oli befriends, deepens the plot as local legends are brought to light. As the situation with Oli’s father comes out in bits and pieces, Oli finds himself drawn more deeply into Eren’s world and influence. The reader is kept in a cloud of obscurity surrounding who Eren really is and whether he knows more of Oli’s family than he is saying. The ending was surprising (to me, at least!) but felt quite fitting for the style of story.
The Book Club gives this book:
Three thumbs up (Toothless wanted more fiery destruction)
I feel pretty safe in corroborating the claim in the blurb, that fans of David Almond should certainly enjoy Clark’s work here. This is one for those who savour an enigmatic approach to storytelling.
Until next time,
Bruce and the Gang