Author: Stepahnie Kuehn
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Release Date: June 10th 2014
Page Count: 224
Well, Charm & Strange was definitely very different from anything I’ve ever read before. It almost felt like certain cult classic films in the sense that it felt off putting and made me a little uneasy, as did films like Fight Club and Trainspotting. It was dark, chilling and definitely very strange…and I enjoyed it quite a bit!
Charm & Strange was written so well, especially for a novel containing themes that you don’t typically see in many novels period. Charm & Strange deals with topics that are so dark and disturbing that I was actually quite genuinely shocked while reading it. To have Ellen Hopkins, the queen of all things realistically dark and horrid, blurb a novel and call it twisted really means something.
Charm & Strange tells the story of Andrew Winston Winters. It jumps between two time periods every other chapter, one being the past and one being the present. The past deals with Andrew and his troubled family, while the present takes place at a boarding school where Andrew, who now goes by the name Win, currently attends. We know there was an event that took place between these two time periods and as the story moves forward all of the details slowly start to unravel.
It’s hard to talk about this novel and its complicated story without the risk of exposing those who haven’t read it yet to plot ruining spoilers, making this most likely one of the shortest reviews I have written. Even I wasn’t completely sure of what was going on until I got closer toward the end of the novel, when more concrete answers were provided.
There were quite a few different characters throughout the novel which could have become confusing, but because they were separated by the separate time periods, they actually helped to differentiate them from one another. Each of the characters were disturbed in their own way, but nothing compared to Andrew and his family.
What you should know going into this novel is that it is definitely dark, twisted and strange, but ultimately tells a complicated and difficult story with extreme skill. I will definitely be picking up more novels from Stephanie Kuehn, especially if they are as unique as Charm & Strange.