REVIEW: Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Title: Charm & Strange
Author: Stephanie Kuehn
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Pages: 224, Hardcover
Source: Library

When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . .

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.

Umm... I really have no idea what I just read. 

So in High School English was my least favorite class (I didn't take a single English class in College). I am really not a fan of interpreting literature because I am not good at it. For as much as I love to read, I need the writing to be pretty straight forward. I can appreciate when writing sounds nice and poetic, but the more profound the writing gets, or the less obvious the message is, the more likely it is to go right over my head. As such is the case with Charm & Strange.

I have no idea if Drew is a wolf or if he is traumatized (so I am hoping that this isn't a spoiler, since I have no idea what it is I am spoiling). That's how confused I am. I mean, I think I have an idea. But I still feel like there is so much I am missing.  I have no clue what to make of this book. It was bizarre. All strange, no charm. 

No, that's not entirely true. For as dumbfounded as I am, I was still enjoying myself while reading this one. Maybe because I like puzzles? But this was like a puzzle where you get to the end and realize you're missing one piece. But you still had fun along the way so you pretty much just shrug and move on. Yes, that is an accurate analogy. 

I imagine for those that are better at this than me (aka, all of you) you will find this book perplexing, unique, and stimulating. Stephanie Kuehn definitely did something here. I just don't know what it is. 

In truth, I am being a little facetious here. I am not completely at a loss, just a little confused and I have a lot of questions. It is true though that I am not sure what the ending means. It's like those open ended movies - up to interpretation. (PS: I HATE THOSE)

This is a fast read. A different read. And an interesting read. Drew will be sure to draw you in with his story and keep hold of you until you reach the end. I think this is a good choice if you are looking for a change of pace, or a total mind f*&k. 



  1. Hmmm...your review has piqued my interest in the book while at the same time I'm hesitant to read it because I'm like you, I just want a great story that I don't have to think too much to understand. So if a book ends and I still don't know what happened, that's not good. Although I sort of felt like that with the Mara Dyer series and I absolutely love those books (they completely mess with your mind). At only 224 pages, I may have to take a chance. ~Pam

    1. I read this REALLY fast. so if your curious i'd definitely give it a go. It won't take you long to finish it!

  2. Hmmmm, I still thinks it sounds interesting. I sometimes really like to read books that boggles my mind. It's fun if you have to think about it, but on the other hand.. Those books can be very frustrating. Great review!


    1. I'll be curious to see what you think if you get around to reading it!

  3. These were pretty much my feelings, too. I love to read - I'll read almost anything - but I have problems with books that rely too heavy on symbolism and reader interpretation. I want to know all of a books secrets.
    In my review, I said that Charm and Strange is smarter than I am, which is true, though it didn't stop me from enjoying it and recognizing what a special thing Stephanie Kuehn has put into the world.

  4. I think I'm going to pass on this one, at least for a while. I'm not in the mood to read an overly confusing book where I don't get a lot of answers. I love puzzles too while reading but not normally ones that I can't figure out. I also am not a huge fan of endings that are left up to interpretation. Sorry this one wasn't better for you, but at least you still enjoyed it! Great review as always!


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