Path of Needles by Hannah Kollef
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Path of Needles made me think that this is exactly what you would get if you mixed pre-sanitized fairytale folklore with YA urban fiction. And it's the mix that makes this such an engrossing read. It's a bit of an understatement I think to just label the novel's genre 'fantasy.' The author has done a remarkable job of weaving the darker (but likely more realistic) elements of folklore - the ones that warn of more dangers than those found by just going into the woods alone - into a modern urban setting with realistic characters. I think the author has done a wonderful job by adding subtle hints of fairy tale in with the obvious story line and character parallels. Overall, I was impressed.
The author's style is easy to read and fills you with so many unanswered questions that you have no choice but to keep turning the pages. However, I think the one area where the author's writing really shines is that of creating those gritty visual images of New York city - the people, the park and just about every other setting in it. And while I wasn't particularly fond of any of the characters, I think they are probably fairly realistic as well (the teens I mean - because no, I don't think transforming fairytale-like creatures are particularly realistic).
Given some of the subject matter, this is definitely for an older YA audience. And if you're intrigued by the folklore enough to look it up, as I was, you'll probably know more about the different interpretations of the path of needles and also conclude that the story is geared toward an older YA reader. It might not be to everyone's taste either. It is gritty and urban. But if you enjoy novels by authors like Cassandra Clare or Libba Bray you'll probably enjoy this.
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