Monday, January 21, 2013

Review Day: Rennefarre

It's Review Day!!!!!!!!!!!!

Title: Rennefarre
Author: Malve von Hassell
My Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Book Blurb:

Imagine riding on the back of a blue heron across time and space. Imagine befriending crows, being kidnapped by magpies, and being given a lift on the back of a kindly stag. Imagine experiencing life as an outcast from human society, encountering spirits and mythical creatures from the world of legends, experiencing the plague in Dresden, and being chased through Berlin by Frederick the Great.

Dott is a twelve-year old girl. She lives in the countryside east of Berlin in an unspecified time between the two world wars. When Dott sneaks out to see the bonfire at the edge of her village on the evening of the midsummer night festival, she has no idea what will happen next. In the dark of night, the magical Rennefarre flower falls into her shoe. It not only makes her invisible, but also allows her to see things no one else could see. No longer able to stay with her parents and her young brother and sister, she begins her search to find a way out of her predicament.

Her quest to return home to her family winds its way through the cities and countryside of 20th century Germany—and beyond. As she befriends the local animals, they help her on her way with gifts of food, shelter, and—through the help of a kind spirit—a magical cup which allows her to become small and ride on the backs of the birds.

Flying across the country on the backs of crows and herons, Dott finds herself seeing the country not only as it is, but also as it used to be. She lives through moments in history others can only read about—meeting historical kings and fanciful spirits along the way. But, even with all of the excitement of her travels, she always has one goal in mind: returning home to her family.

Part coming-of-age story, part fantasy, and part social-cultural portrait of Eastern Germany in the early part of the 20th century, the book covers real ground. That is, one could follow Dott's travels on a map of the area. Seamlessly blending elements of fantasy and history, the book contains a fascinating array of details of day-to-day life in rural and urban areas in eastern Germany. Dott’s adventures are interwoven with folklore and myths as well as vivid accounts of different eras and the diverse cultural and ethnic strains that have formed the basis for a rich and complex history of Germany and Eastern Europe. Written on the eve of World War II, the book offers a sobering perspective on the human potential for causing devastation. At the same time it is filled with hope. In one scene, Dott gets a glimpse of the future — an utterly destroyed cityscape; it inspires her to look to her own responsibilities and actions in life.

My Review:
Dott - Photo from Rennefarre on Pg 5
This beautiful, classic style novel is one that people of all ages will love.  Miss Dott and her amazing journey captured my heart from the first page until the end.  This novel is a little over 200 pages, but a quick read.  The novel took me back to library days in elementary school - when the librarian would read to you a tale of a spirited young girl or boy who got in trouble some how and then got out of that trouble in the end.  She would always end with "The moral of this story is..." making sure you learned something every single time.  I loved remembering that while reading this novel.  The characters in the novel were an absolute delight.  Dott was a perfect character for the plot and made the novel what it is.  The rest of the characters, including the "invisible" spirits throughout that she meets, are amazing as well.  Malve von Hassell did an incredible job with creating a brand new world for her readers from the individual characters down to the grass and flowers surrounding them.

I'm giving this novel only 3.5 stars because of the length.  I did love the novel, but I felt like it was a little too long. Over 200 pages is a very long novel for a story like this.  The chapters were very short and quick, which really helped break it up, but also made the story feel awkward at times.  Some chapters I wanted more in, and others felt as if they were there just to add length.  However, like I said before the novel does go by fairly quick so the length isn't too bad.  I was also confused by the pictures.  They didn't enhance the experience for me.  I actually like having to create images in my head instead.

About the Author, Malve von Hassell:
Malve von Hassell is a freelance writer, researcher, and translator. She holds a Ph. D. in anthropology from the New School for Social Research.  Working as an independent scholar, she published several books and journal articles, in particular, The Struggle for Eden: Community Gardens in New York City (Bergin & Garvey 2002) and Homesteading in New York City 1978-1993: The Divided Heart of Loisaida (Bergin & Garvey 1996).  She has also edited her grandfather Ulrich von Hassell's memoirs written in prison in 1944, Der Kreis schlie├čt sich - Aufzeichnungen aus der Haft 1944 (Propylaen Verlag 1994). She has taught at Queens College, Baruch College, Pace University, and Suffolk County Community College, while continuing her work as a translator and writer.  She has published a children’s picture book, Letters from the Tooth Fairy (Mill City Press, 2012), and completed a manuscript for a historical fiction book set in the 13th century for young adults, Falconello.  She is working on a historical fiction novel set in Jerusalem in the time of the crusades.

Keep up with Malve von Hassell and her lovely store Rennefarre on her website, Facebook, Goodreads, and the official tour website.  Happy Review Day!


Tribute Books said...

Aww, Hilary - I know what you mean. I love books that transport you back to your grade school days. Well said. Thanks for the review.

HilyBee said...

It's the best right! Made my day for sure. :D