I tend to really enjoy historical YA novels, so I was really looking forward to Anna and the Swallow Man. It sounded like it had such an adventurous premise and I was so excited to get lost in Anna’s world, but when I finally picked it up, I found myself a little disappointed.
There are some negative things about this book that prevented me from enjoying it as much as I had hoped I would, but the book also has some positive points, and I want to talk about those first.
First of all, the writing in Anna and the Swallow Man is beautiful. It is descriptive and almost poetic in spots; making for a reading experience that you would think would completely engulf you in the story. The author describes things in ways that I haven’t seen before, taking plenty of time to talk about the setting, the happenings in the novel, and most of all, the characters. This can be a really positive aspect for books, and it can set it apart from other books who do not pay enough attention to detail.
The book is also pretty short, at just 240 pages, so it really wouldn’t take too long to finish it. I usually like books that I figure will be a quick read, because I read a lot and end up finishing books within a day when they are this short.
However, I had a difficult time finishing this one. I did, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not going to lie – it took me over a week to get through it. I think the reason why had to do with the writing style that I talked about…it was just too descriptive in parts, and what was a joy to read in the beginning started to feel like a bit of a chore. Some parts of the book just went on and on, and I really felt like the story could have been wrapped up in half the amount of pages. The descriptions of some of the settings and characters is beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but they’re just so long that sometimes it starts to get a little bit boring.
The story, however…it was definitely well though out and written, and I can’t help but give it plenty of praise. It was heartbreaking at times and at other times it made me smile. I felt bad for poor Anna, who was essentially left alone when her father was taken by the Germans. When she meets the Swallow Man, things look like they might take a turn for the positive for Anna, and she sets off on an adventure with him, which spans over a few years. Anna learns lessons and survival skills from him, while trying her hardest to earn his friendship.
I don’t want to go into the story too much, because I don’t want to give any parts of it away. The synopsis of the book wraps it up pretty nicely. The ending was something I wasn’t expecting, and I was really hoping it would have ended it a different way, but I guess it was somewhat suiting to the rest of the novel.
I wish I had enjoyed it more, because it was one of my most anticipated reads for the beginning of this year, but I just had a hard time getting into it, despite how hard I tried. The story itself was really lovely, though, and if you like historical fiction, and very descriptive writing styles, then I would say to check this one out.
Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.