Book Review: Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

I received an ARC of Far Far Away by Tom McNeal via my Not-So-YA Book Club at Little Shop of Stories. I was a bit skeptical about a story featuring the ghost of one of the Grimm brothers – I tend to stay away from novels containing characters who are living people (or were living at some point in history), it’s just not not for me. However, my initial doubts were for naught – I was so delightfully surprised! Far Far Away is a coming of age novel with a fairy tale twist.

Socially isolated Jeremy Johnson Johnson can hear and speak to the mysterious ghost of Jacob Grimm. Grimm serves as part friend, part tutor, part Jiminy Cricket to Jeremy. The pair of them live in Never Better, a small community which shuns the Johnson family – townspeople don’t quite know what to make of a boy who can hear voices no one else can and a reclusive man incapable of day to day life without the wife that left him. No, Never Better isn’t kind to Jeremy and his father. One day, spunky Ginger Boultinghouse pulls Jeremy into a prank gone wrong and they begin to discover everything is not what it seems in their small town.

I was fond of the narration of the story from Jacob’s point of view; the story of his life, death and subsequent limbo added another layer to the novel. One of my favorite characters was the baker’s assistant, a quiet boy with a talent for pastries. The villain’s actions become a little predictable as the end of the story draws near but I found the progression of the story enjoyable nonetheless. This book would best be suited to middle grade and young adult readers.