The Lost Storyteller

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Title: The Lost Storyteller

Writer: Amanda Block

Publishing House: Hodder & Stoughton

Date of Publication: July 8th 2021

Rating: 5 stars

‘’Then there had been his stories, which felt like memories because at the time she’d believed they were true. She’d tiptoed past a knobbly boulder on the moor because he’d whispered it was a sleeping troll; left a tuft of sheep’s fleece caught in barbed wire because he’s insisted it was the beard of a gnome who’d want it back; scattered a trail of biscuit crumbs through the woods at Midsummer because he’s convinced her the trees liked to move around on the longest day, and otherwise they might forget the way back.’’

Rebecca believed she had left the ghost of a father behind her. A reporter who comes with seemingly nosy questions about The Stowaway,  a successful TV programme elevated by the presence of her father, and a book of tales written by him, reflecting aspects of his life, lead her to discoveries that question everything she had taken for granted. Seven fairy tales hold the key to a journey of isolation, mistreatment, understanding and, possibly, redemption. More often than not, fairy tales are what we need to start anew.

This book is EVERYTHING!

Amanda Block sets her beautiful story on Devon, London, and Edinburgh, creating a quintessentially British atmosphere and scenery. Where to begin? The sense of place is phenomenal. Your mind will ‘’visit’’ Exeter, London and the beloved capital of Scotland and will ask for more. As I asked for more of Leo’s tales:

The First Tale: The Collector and the Nixie: A boy becomes the unwilling apprentice to a collector or fairies, baby dragons and other magical creatures. When his path is crossed with a nixie’s a wish may set them both free. A beautiful story echoing Hans Christian Andersen’s tales. 

‘’When oak meets ash,

And ash meets thorn,

There you will find

Where you were born.’’

The Second Tale: The Golden Door: A very interesting take on the ever-enticing myth of the Changeling in which a young boy goes through several ordeals due to prejudice and hatred.

The Third Tale: The Voyage to the Edge of the World: A beautiful tale of a brave captain, sirens, monsters and a land of shadow beyond the edge of the world. A marvellous story that seems to have jumped out of Arabian Nights.

The Fourth Tale: The Enchanted Lute: The tale of a young man who became a slave to his vocation until a princess broke the spell.

‘’Before long, the man grew alarmed about what might become if he stayed, but by the time he had decided to escape the woodcutter’s cottage, it was too late: the family had taken both of his legs.’’

The Fifth Tale: The Woodcutter’s Cottage: A dark, violent and haunting tale, paying homage to Grimm’s legacy. The story of an exhausted man, lost in the forest, and the evil family that takes and takes until there is nothing left…

The Sixth Tale: The Witch and the Sphinx: A tale of sand and time and riddles. The story of a witch and a sphinx, a magic mask and a man blinded by beauty and greed. One of the BEST tales I’ve ever read!

The Seventh Tale: The Man Without a Shadow: The enigmatic story of a man who is trying to escape his shadow, a wise shaman and a pretty little bird.

Amanda Block weaves a tale of a family chocked with secrets and lies with traces of all the classic tales of our childhood, within a setting that moves between mystic woods and the urban spirit of our furious times. Rebecca’s no-nonsense attitude and her love for History, references to Tintagel (the theme of myths is always with us), beautiful countryside scenes and Edinburgh’s mystery and unique vibe during festival time. Most importantly, she writes about mental health in a moving, direct manner full of respect, sensitivity and hope, while wonderfully exposing every character’s flaws and virtues. Rebecca and Leo will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

This is a summer tale of beauty, expression and thwarted dreams. Of being alone when everyone has given up on you, of perseverance, of having faith in yourself, of being brave enough to trust in others. This is the most magical debut by a writer full of gifts. This is the most magical book of the year.

‘’In the hollow of his timber body, what remained of the man recognised the place where he had been lost long ago, only it did not seem remotely cold or dark or frightening anymore.’’

Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.