Charm & Strange - Stephanie Kuehn EDIT:

"The story that was too big for me to tell, the one that grew to fill the depths of my being and the far corners of my mind. It’s how I lost my system of meaning… but I haven’t lost everything."

Wow. This book was not what I expected, not in the least bit. It was darker, it was harsher, and in many ways much more meaningful than I thought it would. I connected with Win and Jordan and Lex in ways I never expected I would. As that night wore on and I learned their secrets and the bits of their stories they decided to share with Win, I just . . . I connected with them. I knew them. Because I am them.

I have been the outsider, the one who feels left out and inadequate. The one who can't always read social situations and makes thing awkward. This book dug up feelings I wasn't expecting to feel. I was really invested in it.

I expected this novel to be a dark urban fantasy. It is not. It is dark contemporary . . . and so much more than that. There are times when you won't understand anything, or anyone, and times when you think 'Ah, I have it all figured out!' Well, guess what: you don't. The big reveal at the end (there were two) just blew my mind. The bridge scene made me cry like a newborn. The other reveal . . . it had me shaking with rage.

If you read this novel, you will be challenged, I'm telling you. At times, being so confused will annoy you. It's worth it, though.. It all comes together in the end to make you just go "Well, holy shit, mind fuck."

The message of this book was pretty clear--to me at least. Sometimes, even when you can't see a reason to live, or to live the way you should, or the way you would be happier--there are people that can see that way for you. There are people, even if you haven't met them yet, that are worth sticking around for. It's a lesson I learned a long time ago, but this book framed it in a new way.

I recommend this book. The plotting is brilliant, the ending revelations are real and true and painful in the most painful of ways. But there is a happy ending in there, somewhere. And there is a message, too. Sometimes life is not happy, and bad things happen to people they shouldn't, and good people do bad things, and bad people disguise themselves as guardians and protectors and teachers. Sometimes the most ugly things and people hide behind a mask of kindness, and the kindest people wear masks of the ugliest variety. And even though there is so much sorrow in the world, there is still happiness. There is still something to do and something to see and people to know. There are still fragments of good hidden inside the bad.


I just got a free copy of this from the publisher as well, and I'm really looking forward to it. Beautiful cover, looks awesome! I'm gonna have a great month in books, it seems!

Currently reading

Invisible Monsters
Chuck Palahniuk
Siege and Storm
Leigh Bardugo
Deception (Defiance #2)
C.J. Redwine