I haven’t read a middle grade book since I was in elementary school, and I’m starting to second-guess this decision. Tell the Story to Its End by Simon P. Clark surprised me with its dark story-telling approach. I was often wondering if this was geared more towards young adults while reading the novel, which says a lot about Clark’s writing abilities.
The story is about Oli, a twelve-year-old boy whose mother decided they should move from London to the countryside. Oli is not happy with this change in scenery, to say the least. That is, until he discovers Eren and his dark asphyxiation with telling stories and fables. Oli’s summer countryside retreat takes a dramatic turn as he learns about the difference between the truth and lies and what makes a friend worthwhile.
I very much enjoyed the pacing of the novel. I didn’t have to wait around to get into the thick of it. I also liked the tidbits from Eren at the beginning of each chapter. They offered a bit of unease, even in the beginning chapters when nothing out of the ordinary was happening. I loved Clark’s story-telling abilities. I felt like I was reading something I would say when I was in middle school. Well, something I would say if I had a dark secret I never told anyone. I honestly didn’t fully realize it was a middle grade novel until I saw the illustrations.
While I enjoyed the story, I often felt a little confused while reading. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I knew everything would come together in the end. This could be a bit of Clark’s way of writing, but it may be too cryptic for younger readers to decipher.
It’s difficult to pinpoint a reading group for this novel. While my instinct is to say younger readers, I think adults could enjoy the book as well. I consider it a fast read for anyone who wants to read something a bit different from the ordinary.
Sarah Emily Lelonek has a BA in English Literature from Kent State University. She is currently enrolled at Tiffin University in their Master’s of Education program. She enjoys traveling and gaming while on breaks from working on her novel.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Griffin. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.