June 9, 2013

Charm & Strange Blog Tour: Review, Excerpt + Giveaway

Charm & Strange
Author: Stephanie Kuehn
Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal/Mystery
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Buy Link: Amazon

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.

 From Chapter One: Matter

I don't feel the presence of God here.

I pace along the far side of the river, my ears filled with the hum of cicadas and the roar of water flowing over the milldam. Vermont is postcard perfect. I could stand on my toes and peer over the current and the cattails and see the whole town spread before me. Green-shuttered houses. The cobblestone square. The church spire. The boarding school.

But I don't.

I crave the illusion of solitude.

The dark-haired girl, who looks like a boy, watches me from the woods. She's hunkered down in a birch thicket with bare legs and discerning eyes. I know what she saw and I don't want her to talk to me, but she'll try. I'm sure of this. She mistakes my distance for mystery, and she wants to know why I do the things I do.

My sister was the same way. She thought there was a reason for everything.

Me? I don't think there's a reason for anything.

Not anymore.
Charm & Strange is a young adult paranormal mystery that follows the story of Andrew Winston Winters as he battles himself and his past while at boarding school in Vermont. He punishes himself over a family tragedy, deadly secrets from his past, and the fact that he is essentially two people trapped in a single body. He's part Win and part Drew, and one night the two of them are going to relive the pain and isolation that he's been trying to avoid. 

This was a truly amazing book filled with mystery and tons of twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat and guessing throughout the entire novel. The story gripped me right from the beginning and didn't let go until long after I finished reading it. I loved Andrew as the main character. He was so flawed and broken that he was completely realistic and believable. His fractured personality along with his secrets and his past made me really empathize with him, but kept me guessing about the truth most of the time too. The setting was a good one - an isolated boarding school in Vermont, where Andrew can't hide from himself or his past any more. I loved learning all about Andrew - about Win and Drew and the horrible things that have happened to him. There was a lot of character growth and history throughout the novel that I felt gave the plot a depth that you don't normally find in YA novels, especially ones in this genre. The story was very fast paced and kept me eagerly reading to see what would happen next. I loved the mystery element to the novel - I love trying to guess what will happen or what had happened beforehand to make things the way they are. The author did a magnificent job with the story, especially with blending the past with the present along with everything going on inside Andrew's mind. This is definitely a book that had me hooked from the very first sentence and one that I will have to revisit again. Highly recommended for fans of mysteries and YA paranormal/fantasy fiction.

Stephanie Kuehn is a YA writer who grew up in Berkeley, California, which is a quirky sort of a place with a ton of wonderful bookstores. Her very first job was working in one of those bookstores, and she's been a freakishly avid reader for as long as she can remember. 
Stephanie's other passions include mental health advocacy, social justice, and sports of all kinds. She's currently living in Northern California with her family and their wild menagerie of pets.



  1. Look forward to reading. Thank you for the giveaway.

  2. Nice review. Glad you liked it.

    Thanks for participating.