Tell the Story to Its End
by Simon P. Clark
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Length: 208 pages
Obtained Via: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my final opinion of the work.
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
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In this beautiful, haunting debut, a boy is whisked away to the country in the wake of a scandal, and finds a captivating creature in the attic whose attention comes at a sinister price.
“Tell the story to its end,” says Eren with a grin.
His yellow eyes are glowing like embers in the night.
“When I reach the end,” I say, “what happens? You’ll have the whole story.”
“Hmm,” he says, looking at me and licking his lips with a dry, grey tongue. “What happens then? Why don’t we find out?”
People are keeping secrets from Oli. His mum has brought him to stay with his aunt and uncle in the countryside, but nobody will tell him why his dad where his father is. Why isn’t he with them? Has something happened? Oli has a hundred questions, and only an old, empty house in the middle of an ancient forest for answers. But then he finds a secret of his own: there is a creature that lives in the attic…
Eren is not human.
Eren is hungry for stories.
Eren has been waiting for him.
Sharing his stories with Eren, Oli starts to make sense of what’s happening downstairs with his family. But what if it’s a trap? Soon, Oli must make a choice: learn the truth—or abandon himself to Eren’s world, forever.
Reminiscent of SKELLIG by David Almond and A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness, EREN is richly atmospheric, moving, unsettleing, and told in gorgeous prose. A modern classic in the making.
Tell the Story to Its End (first published as EREN, hence the description above) is a short, fantastical middle grade novel that is indeed reminiscent of A Monster Calls. There are some illustrations throughout the novel(though not many), and it deals with the nature of stories. However, where the books diverged is A Monster Call focuses on the grief of the main character, and Tell the Story to Its End has more a mystery element.
Oli’s staying in the country with his aunt and uncle for the summer, but he’s not sure why him and his mother left London. He does know it has something to do with his father’s position and politics, and potentially an accusation against his father, but everyone keeps things hush-hush around him. He finds a few neighborhood kids and makes friends, but soon he has a secret of his own: the creature in his uncle’s attic, Eren.
Tell the Story to Its End is weird, but it’s the perfect kind of weird for middle grade. I have to admit I’m not much of a middle grade reader, but Tell the Story to Its End had two things going for it on that front: 1) It’s definitely on the upper end of middle grade, and 2) the story feels rather timeless. There’s little that really pins down the time period the story takes place in, and it’s absolutely the kind of story that will reward re-reads.
I flew through Tell the Story to Its End and enjoyed the discussion of stories and the creepy atmosphere, but at the same time something felt missing. Oli’s character has consistency, but the character growth fell flat. The story was haunting enough that I enjoyed it overall, but it didn’t put it’s tethers in me.
A short, atmospheric middle grade that I think would appeal to people of all age groups because of the timeless quality and musing on the nature of stories. However, for all the discussions of sories, this is not one that will stay with me for long. 3/5 cupcakes.