Every once in a while, we publish a book so special we struggle to pitch it. Not because the plot is too confusing or because the story is so out-there–it’s because there is so much good stuff layered into its pages we’re actually not sure where to begin. So, instead, we gush. Sometimes throwing out a random array of words related to the plot (“Jeremy Johnson Johnson!” “Brothers Grimm!” “Prince Cakes!!”), sometimes falling over ourselves to tell you how excited we are to publish another amazing book from Tom McNeal, and sometimes we just make happy noises and clap our hands.
Here’s the official summary:
It says quite a lot about Jeremy Johnson Johnson that the strangest thing about him isn’t even the fact his mother and father both had the same last name. Jeremy once admitted he’s able to hear voices, and the townspeople of Never Better have treated him like an outsider since. After his mother left, his father became a recluse, and it’s been up to Jeremy to support the family. But it hasn’t been up to Jeremy alone. The truth is, Jeremy can hear voices. Or, specifically, one voice: the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous writing duo, The Brothers Grimm. Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next. But when the provocative local girl Ginger Boultinghouse takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings. . .
Young adult veteran Tom McNeal (one half of the writing duo known as Laura & Tom McNeal) has crafted a novel at once warmhearted, compulsively readable, and altogether thrilling–and McNeal fans of their tautly told stories will not be disappointed.
This story is one part family drama, one part mystery, one part love story, and one part fairytale retelling–only to call it a true “retelling” is a bit misleading. If you or your readers have started to feel some fatigue in the genre, this might be just the thing to spark your love again. The magical, often creepy fairytale-atmosphere expands with each chapter… and just when you think you’ve figured out what direction the story is headed, it takes a deadly twist. Is this fairytale really a nightmare? You’ll have to read and see!
We have a reading group guide available to get the discussion going. You can also catch the trailer below:
P.S. Looking for a great fairy tale retelling for middle school students? Hand them this one! Looking for a younger audience? We have you covered.