Friday, January 4, 2013

Tribute Books: "Rennefarre: Dott's Wonderful Travels and Adventures" Book Review

Rennefarre Book Summary:
Imagine riding on the back of a blue heron across time and space. Imagine befriending crows, being kidnapped by magpies, and being given a lift on the back of a kindly stag. Imagine experiencing life as an outcast from human society, encountering spirits and mythical creatures from the world of legends, experiencing the plague in Dresden, and being chased through Berlin by Frederick the Great.

Dott is a twelve-year old girl. She lives in the countryside east of Berlin in an unspecified time between the two world wars. When Dott sneaks out to see the bonfire at the edge of her village on the evening of the midsummer night festival, she has no idea what will happen next. In the dark of night, the magical Rennefarre flower falls into her shoe. It not only makes her invisible, but also allows her to see things no one else could see. No longer able to stay with her parents and her young brother and sister, she begins her search to find a way out of her predicament.

Her quest to return home to her family winds its way through the cities and countryside of 20th century Germany—and beyond. As she befriends the local animals, they help her on her way with gifts of food, shelter, and—through the help of a kind spirit—a magical cup which allows her to become small and ride on the backs of the birds.

Flying across the country on the backs of crows and herons, Dott finds herself seeing the country not only as it is, but also as it used to be. She lives through moments in history others can only read about—meeting historical kings and fanciful spirits along the way. But, even with all of the excitement of her travels, she always has one goal in mind: returning home to her family.

Part coming-of-age story, part fantasy, and part social-cultural portrait of Eastern Germany in the early part of the 20th century, the book covers real ground. That is, one could follow Dott's travels on a map of the area. Seamlessly blending elements of fantasy and history, the book contains a fascinating array of details of day-to-day life in rural and urban areas in eastern Germany. Dott’s adventures are interwoven with folklore and myths as well as vivid accounts of different eras and the diverse cultural and ethnic strains that have formed the basis for a rich and complex history of Germany and Eastern Europe. Written on the eve of World War II, the book offers a sobering perspective on the human potential for causing devastation. At the same time it is filled with hope. In one scene, Dott gets a glimpse of the future — an utterly destroyed cityscape; it inspires her to look to her own responsibilities and actions in life.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Rating this book was very challenging for me because I am not a fantasy book aficionado.  Once in a while, I find myself enraptured with a fantasy novel, but I will be honest--it was not this one.  So why the high rating?  Read on.

First of all, this is a clean read--completely clean.  And this is definitely a young adult book.  My 9-year-old daughter would probably have enjoyed this more than me.  The book is written exceptionally well.  Many fantasy novels are poorly written, but not this one.  And I love the fact that a lot of history went into this book.  I appreciate the Christian principles I found in the book and the many references to God.  For all these reasons, I am giving this a 4-star rating.  It is a well-written fantasy book that will definitely appeal to young people who are fantasy lovers.  There are some great illustrations included as well!

Why did I not like it?  I found that after the first chapter, I struggled to connect with the characters.  Dott was fine, but I could not buy into all the animals and all the travels.  Yes, she was a busy little girl, and her travels were quite intriguing at times.  But I just did not find myself connecting with the story.  But I believe the book targets a different audience than me, and I appreciated the notes the author had in back.  There was a lot of historical information included, and I would suggest that you use this when going through the book.

I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.

Malve von Hassell's Bio: 
Malve von Hassell is a freelance writer, researcher, and translator. She holds a Ph. D. in anthropology from the New School for Social Research. Working as an independent scholar, she published several books and journal articles, in particular, The Struggle for Eden: Community Gardens in New York City (Bergin & Garvey 2002) and Homesteading in New York City 1978-1993: The Divided Heart of Loisaida (Bergin & Garvey 1996). She has also edited her grandfather Ulrich von Hassell's memoirs written in prison in 1944, Der Kreis schließt sich - Aufzeichnungen aus der Haft 1944 (Propylaen Verlag 1994). She has taught at Queens College, Baruch College, Pace University, and Suffolk County Community College, while continuing her work as a translator and writer. She has published a children’s picture book, Letters from the Tooth Fairy (Mill City Press, 2012), and completed a manuscript for a historical fiction book set in the 13th century for young adults, Falconello. She is working on a historical fiction novel set in Jerusalem in the time of the crusades.

Price/Format: $13.99 paperback
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
ISBN: 9781938690389
Pages: 297
Release: December 11, 2012 buy link ($13.99):

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1 comment:

  1. Ruth, thanks for the review. I hope your daughter gets a chance to read Malve's book. Thanks for recommending it for readers of her age group.


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