Monthly Archives: November 2013

A Plume of Green Smoke Rises…


“Reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel, and rife with allusions to Grimm Brothers’ tales, this is a masterful story of outcasts, the power of faith, and the triumph of good over evil.” …. I didn’t write that but I read Tom McNeal’s really, really good Far, Far Away and totally agree.  Jeremy Johnson Johnson is his own outcast trying to maintain a crumbling old book shop left to them by the grandfather and living with his father who left participating in life after his wife left him.  There’s something strange going in the area.  Young people have ‘disappeared’ but no one really worries because, well, there’s an explanation seemingly for their absence. The Narrator is none other than the ghost of Jacob Grimm who is still seeking the whereabouts of his brother in the other world between life and death but currently is Jeremy’s ‘guardian of sorts’. The story contains that essence of folktale that makes you KNOW something is not right but what is it?  Jacob ‘counsels’ Jeremy on his studies, hoping to help Jeremy find a way out of the town that seems a dead-end – no pun intended.  While you will not find a witch in this tale, you will come to understand that the Finder of Occasions is an evil Jacob seeks to find and steer away from Jeremy.  But aren’t we all drawn to the unknown? And Jacob and Ginger Boultinghouse (perhaps the Gretel in this story) are drawn together to pursue something that they cannot see or touch but are irresistibly drawn towards. Fine writing and great character voices.  There’s a certain sadness in this story.  Where do we look for happiness? Who do we miss? How do you move on from a disappointment or loss? There is also strength among the characters who wrangle with their mistakes and make do.  I guess there is something to be said for ‘guardian ghosts’ as well.  Good stuff.farfaraway