Far Far Away
by Tom McNeal
Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. 369 pgs. Young Adult
In some respects, this is a dreadful story, grim in the manner of Grimm's original fairy tales. And, in fact, Jacob Grimm is the ghostly narrator of the deeply affecting story of Jeremy Johnson Johnson. Jacob is trapped at his death in the Zwischenraum ("the space between"), unable to pass on to rejoin his beloved brother Wilhelm in death, or to partake of the blessings of Heaven. He must stay because of the Thing Undone, something he still must accomplish though he doesn't know what it is. He does know that it involves staying with Jeremy and somehow protecting him from The Finder of Occasions, an agent of evil who lives somewhere near but whose identity is unknown. Jeremy can hear Jacob--no one else can--and the interplay of their lives, Jacob's finished and Jeremy's beginning, creates many poignant moments. Interwoven with that tenderness is a terrifying suspense. The reader knows, well before Jacob or Jeremy who the Finder of Occasions is, though the depth of his evil is breathtaking even sort of knowing what is coming. Far Far Away bids well to become a modern classic, a timeless new story in the beguiling tradition of the timeless tales of the Brothers Grimm themselves. I defy anyone to read the last page of this story without at least tearing up, and maybe crying outright.