Far Far Away by Tom McNeal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jeremy Johnson Johnson lives in Never Better, a small, blink-and-you'll-miss-it town in the midwest (as best as I can tell; the exact location isn't given). As with many such small towns, there are definite characters: Jeremy's father never leaves their house, there's a crazy lady waiting for the son that disappeared years ago to reappear, the deputy sheriff is a near-dwarf, and the baker makes the most amazing treat, a Princes Tart. Jeremy himself is a little odd, unatheletic and prone to hearing voices. The predominant voice is that of Jacob, as in "William and Jacob Grimm"; Jacob would tell you he's a ghost, for some reason stuck on this plain and looking for the thing undone.
Far Far Away is very much like one of Grimm's tales, with a villian luring innocents in, some magic (in the form of the baker's food and Jacob's presence), a fair maiden and a hero. It's not light, again like the Grimm stories, and might surprise those used to the sanitized Disney versions. There's a lot of Grimm trivia in here, with Jacob competing on a game show called Uncommon Knowledge (his specialty? The Brothers Grimm).
Despite owing so much to the Brothers and their works, this is original and very enjoyable.
ARC provided by publisher.