This one of those books that I kept imagining page by page would get better. The story is about a young boy, David, who loses his mother to an unknown sickness; and happens early on. This part of the book was well written and I could relate to his creation of rituals to try and make things right. All of us have rituals and beliefs of some sort which make the fear of the unknown more palatable. I felt for him and liked him even more because his vulnerability shone through.
After David's mother is gone, his father falls in love with Rose. Eventually they have a baby together who David strongly resents. At the same time David begins to experience 'attacks' where he blacks out and hears books speaking. One night he hears an airplane outside and goes to explore, he hides in a garden wall crack and is transported to a fairy tale world.
Initially I was excited about this turn in the story and loved some parts ie. Snow White and the communist 7 dwarfs; the downside is that the fairy world is very, very dark. I am ok with some darkness but I felt like parts of the novel were just horrible for no real reason. Shocking just for the sake of it. There is a Crooked Man who is exceptionally evil. You would expect the good guys to win sometimes but not so much here. I kept expecting some twist: his mother was really alive, the lost children would be found, his stepmother was really behind it all, but no, nothing good comes of the promising initial storyline.
Ultimately David has to find the King in order to go back home. His path there and the insight into the Crooked Man turned me off from the story. I didn't think that the sexually perverse tones and extreme violence in some sections added to the book in any way. Actually, the book gave me some nightmares. It was disturbing stuff. Not my cup of tea at all.