3 out of 4 stars
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Story Bends is a poignant and thought-provoking fantasy novel written by S. D. Henke.
Edward Story is a disturbed thirteen-year-old boy in Derbyshire, England. After an incident that had nearly cost him his life when he was three years old, Edward started to hear voices, have trouble sleeping, and sense nocturnal visitors. As if that’s not enough for a thirteen-year-old to handle, Edward is bullied in school for being strange and suffers occasional nosebleeds. Through it all, he finds comfort in his journal where he scrawls what seems like meaningless images. His therapist, seemingly frustrated with Edward’s apparent disregard for those who are trying to help him get better, prescribes a new medication to help Edward sleep.
Meanwhile, Edward’s parents suffer the pain of having their son so detached from this world and not being able to reach out to him. This takes a toll on their marital relationship so they decide to go on a holiday and invite Sister Dina to watch over Edward in their absence. Emboldened by Sister Dina’s reassuring presence, Edward enters The Bends, a thin place between life and death and a realm of tilted memories.
Told in the first-person perspective of Edward and with a consistently steady pacing, the book has sixty-two chapters. It vividly depicts the torment of being unable to talk about what a young person is going through for fear of being ridiculed and spurned. Similarly, it portrays the agony of the parents who couldn’t reach out to their offspring and their perpetual search for a seemingly elusive solution to whatever it is that bothers their child. Moreover, the book illustrates how the faith of even one person can make an enormous difference to a tortured individual. In addition to the liberal use of figurative language which makes the narration evocative, unexpected revelations lead the story to a conclusion that gives the book a memorable and haunting quality.
All in all, this is an enjoyable book. However, the use of conspicuously formal vocabulary and sentence fragments doesn’t make it an easy read. Moreover, I find the plot ambiguous with scenes not thoroughly and explicitly explained that the ending leaves several questions unanswered. It seems like the explanations are hidden somewhere in the story and it is up to the readers to find them. Though it may be challenging to some readers, others may find it a little frustrating. Furthermore, except for Edward, I find the characters less developed than I hope, especially Sister Dina. Next to Edward, she is my second favorite character. She is genuinely compassionate with physical and emotional scars that make her the kind of person she is. I would appreciate a more detailed backstory on her. Finally, there are several noticeable errors within the entire book (like your saying we go instead of you’re saying we go and whose gone all wonky instead of who’s gone all wonky).
I, therefore, rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is interesting, moving, and memorable. I recommend it to fans of fantasy novels.
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