Genre: Historical fiction, YA
Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She’s alone.
And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see.
The Swallow Man is not Anna’s father—she knows that very well—but she also knows that, like her father, he’s in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness.
Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgment, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous. Even the Swallow Man.
Destined to become a classic, Gavriel Savit’s stunning debut reveals life’s hardest lessons while celebrating its miraculous possibilities.
This book was given to me from goodreads as an ARC however the review is entirely honest and my own.
This book is set in WWII and is from the view of a 7 year old girl, she loses her father early on in the book and goes travelling with a stranger that she calls the Swallow Man. This man will become a father figure to Anna and will provide for her throughout the coming years of the war.
The book is similar to the Book Thief in some respects as they are both set during the war and they are both about young children. Also the writing style is similar in both books – it starts from a narrator telling us things that the main character does not know.
What was so interesting about this book was how it was written from the small child’s perspective, she knows many different languages however does not refer to them as languages e.g. German or Russian however she refers to them as the people who taught her the language which I thought was interesting. Also with it being told from this perspective led to some wonderful quotes, for example being 7 she doesn’t know what war is and this is expressed from her own view as:
It seemed, at least in part, to be an assault on her cookie supply, and of this she simply could not approve.
I thought this was so interesting as I had never come across this before, she is clearly trying to understand what war is but from her own point of view as to what she is witnessing in the world around her – as a 7 year old would do.
The writing is truly amazing with such an interesting plot between the characters, normally it is quite difficult to show the world from a 7 year old’s perspective however this book does it brilliantly. It shows the loving relationship between Anna and the Swallow man as daughter and father and it is such an amazing bond between them that you will surely love it.
The only downside to this book I think is towards the end of the book, some adult themes start to develop. There are no graphic details however it may be somewhat disturbing for a young child to read, nothing particularly bad happens however I wouldn’t be comfortable giving it to a young child to read so for that I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone under probably 15.
However despite this it is an amazing book and I would definitely read it if you were a fan of the Book Thief as it has a similar writing style and is set in a similar environment.
Summing up: Magical