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Content Review: The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis

The Storyteller
by Antonia Michaelis
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Amulet Books; 1 edition (January 1, 2012)
Buy the Book: Amazon
Anna and Abel couldn’t be more different. They are both seventeen and in their last year of school, but while Anna lives in a nice old town house and comes from a well-to-do family, Abel, the school drug dealer, lives in a big, prisonlike tower block at the edge of town. Anna is afraid of him until she realizes that he is caring for his six-year-old sister on his own. Fascinated, Anna follows the two and listens as Abel tells little Micha the story of a tiny queen assailed by dark forces. It’s a beautiful fairy tale that Anna comes to see has a basis in reality. Abel is in real danger of losing Micha to their abusive father and to his own inability to make ends meet. Anna gradually falls in love with Abel, but when his “enemies” begin to turn up dead, she fears she has fallen for a murderer. Has she?

  • Profanity:  Very Heavy
  • Sexual Content:  Very Heavy
  • Violence:  Heavy
  • Other Notables:  Some drinking and drug use
For more details, check out The Storyteller on


This book is very different from most of the books that I have reviewed for Reading Teen. One thing that makes it different is that it takes place in present day Germany. The names and locations are unusual and so are some of the customs. The main characters in the story are 17 years old and engage in drinking alcohol and smoking with their parents consent and apparently legally. Anna, the main character, calls her parents by their first names and has almost no rules in her home life. Another big difference is that this is a very complicated and suspenseful murder mystery. The book opens with someone cleaning up a bloody bathroom and then burying the body of a female in the woods. We aren't told who the female is or who is burying her. As the story unfolds, the author, Antonia Michaelis, does an excellent job of giving the reader hints as to what is going on while teasing us with many possible options for who the killer might be. Or should I say killers because 2 more deaths and an attempted murder occur before the story ends. One of the most interesting aspects of this book is the story within a story. Abel Tannatek, a classmate and love interest of Anna's, is the storyteller. He uses a running fairy tale to try to explain the circumstances of their lives to his 6 year old sister, Micha. The characters in the fairy tale are based on the people in their lives and their interaction with them.

Anna Leeman is a 17 year old high school student who is bright and an excellent flute player. She is the only child of professional parents and lives in a comfortable home. Anna is not wild or rebellious and has never had a boyfriend. But there is something that attracts her to the dark and mysterious Abel Tannatek. He is also 17 years old but spends most of his class time slumped silently in his seat or asleep at his desk. There is a rumor going around school that Abel is a drug dealer. Circumstances brought these two into contact with each other and Anna felt herself inexplicably drawn to him. She even follows him around town in hopes of being noticed by him. Anna becomes acquainted with Abel's little sister, Micha, and uses this to further her relationship with Abel. Abel and Micha are half-siblings who are living on their own due to the absence of their drug addicted mother. They are basically hiding in a small apartment while attempting to live an outwardly normal life trying not to be noticed by authorities. Anna becomes entwined with both Abel and Micha and even becomes a character in his fairy tale. Their hope for a normal relationship is threatened when people close to them are found murdered and suspicion is thrown on them and others in their circle.

Once I got used to the strange names and locales, I found this book very intriguing. It was very well written and the suspense held until the last page. I would recommend this book to older teens due to very adult themes, sexual situations and violence. There is also quite a bit of language.
Subpages (1): The Storyteller Content