The Story Traveller by Max Candee 3/5
“Stories aren’t real … or are they?
Fifteen-year-old Haley Spade is enrolled in an exclusive boarding school in Connecticut. This school has a grim mythology: Everyone believes that the angry ghosts of six students who committed suicide decades ago still haunt its halls.
On a dare, Haley spends a night wandering through the “haunted” building. But she takes a wrong turn into a dizzying adventure of stories made real, stories within stories, worlds within worlds. She encounters magical creatures like the King of the Cats, a shapeshifting crow, elves—and a menace far more terrifying than any ghost.
Suspenseful, fast and rooted in several fairy tales, The Story Traveler captures our yearning to be more than what we are. Haley’s bizarre journey will leave her and the reader wondering: What is reality?”
Thanks go to Helvetic House and Netgalley for giving me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
I was expecting great things from this book, but it fell just a little short. That’s not to say that it didn’t have innovative, engaging aspects.
The concept is great- a teen who finds herself in a world of stories; layers upon layers of stories retold by the creators with doorways in and out. Stories full of characters as real as you or I- sub characters, main characters, heroes, villains. The world building was detailed, and I understood the narrative, but there were lots of info dumps. Large parts of the narrative were taken up explaining the way the story worlds worked, and what the ‘story’ characters were trying to achieve. However, the different story worlds and characters created by Candee were brilliantly imaginative.
My favourite characters were Tom the King of Cats, and Jack ‘Mr Dawes’, a man who can tranform into a Jackdaw. Both these characters held intrigue, and I loved the complexity of one character who you think betrays Haley, the main character. The narrative is written in first person, but I didn’t like Haley that much. I mean, I didn’t dislike her, but she confused me. Scared, brave, scared, brave. Trusting, untrusting, trusting, untrusting. You get the picture.
I thought the relationship between Haley and Oliver was sweet and had a believable, slow build up, but I wanted a dramatic ‘You’re the one for me’ moment of sorts. Instead, the ending became about Sarah who is a total b**tch. There are some life lessons for teens thrown in for good measure.
I just wanted to include a favourite exchange of mine:
“Do you mean storytellers give away parts of their souls every time they tell a story?” I asked.
“Absolutely,” Jack said with that creepy smile plastered on his face.
In summary, a book full of imagination, detailed world building, and some great characters, but a narrative heavy with info dumps.
The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties.
All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman
K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review.