Wednesday 15 March 2017

The Song of the Stork by Stephan Collishaw

Published by Legend Press on March 1, 2017

The Song of the Stork is the complete package as far as beautiful books go. The cover is stunning and the title is really striking and the perfect fit for the story inside. Stephan Collishaw’s storytelling was built on atmosphere and tension, the unnerving feeling that something bad is going to happen without it being spelt out to us. The prose is dark and intense and my fear for what could happen to the characters I quickly cared for had me refusing to put the book down.

Set around World War II, in The Song of the Stork we meet Yael, a fifteen year old Jewish girl who is on the run, seeking shelter from the Germans. All alone, and with the belief that there is nobody left to wonder where or how she is, Yael’s life is now driven by the hope that her brother Josef is alive and how they could be reunited. In the meantime she gradually wins over recluse Aleksei into giving her shelter from the outside world.

Aleksei is mute but that didn’t stop me from completely falling for his character. I found him to be inspired and I loved his way of communicating with Yael and how protective he was. I think he showed great strength in character as he accepted his fear of the situation he was in – his life was under threat as he hid Yael in his home – but still did everything in his power to keep Yael safe. I loved everything about Aleksei’s character and felt for him and his frustration at not always being able to get through to Yael or express himself to her. Yael is a more outgoing character and keeps Aleksei on his toes, and the gradual love story that builds between them was wonderful to read.

I think the author represents the time period, and therefore the war, in this book really well. There is danger lurking on every page and every chapter where things seemed relatively safe for Yael and Aleksei made me feel more aware that bad things were coming. One thing I particularly loved about this book was the feeling of hope that runs through its core. As much as this is a survival story and you are aware that happy endings in this era often went unfounded, there was a level of hope about this book, within the characters and within the reader, and this gave a slightly different feel to the experience of reading a World War II story. I found I was always clinging onto hope, despite fearing for the characters’ lives, and this kept me glued to the pages to see how everything would turn out.

I really did take to this book but my one complaint is with the ending. It just didn’t feel right to me. I felt like someone had ripped the last couple of chapters out of my book… I never feel like I need every loose end to be tied up, I don’t really mind an open ending, but this one was way too open for my liking. To have been invested in something so much throughout the course of the book to find no closure whatsoever was a shame as I finished the book still dying for answers about something in particular.

Despite that, The Song of the Stork is a book that will long remain on my mind. I absolutely loved this book as it was truly beautiful and powerful. The language and tone made this harsh story incredibly readable. I loved the atmospheric detail from the snow to the storks. Everything was very expressive and it gave the book more impact. The Song of the Stork is a haunting yet compassionate story built with love and a level of hope that the future for the characters within the book is not as bleak as can be feared.

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