Book Review: The Book of Pearl, by Timothee de Fombelle

the book of pearl
Image belongs to Candlewick Press.

Joshua Pearl doesn’t belong in this world. He comes from the world of story, of fairy tales, where he no one knows he exists—and they certainly don’t know he’s the younger brother of their cruel and brutal king. His love keeps him alive, but he’s cursed to live in a world that doesn’t believe in magic. This world.

In Paris just before World War II, Joshua lives and works in a marshmallow shop beloved by many. He’s found a family. He has a home and a job he adores, but something is missing. As his memories of his life before start to fade, Joshua searches for objects of mystery—starting with a mermaid’s scale—that might help him prove his own story, before his memories are lost forever.

Sometimes, I’m not terribly observant when I’m picking out books. Like picking up the third book in a series, having no idea it’s part of a series. In this case, I didn’t realize The Book of Pearl was a translation. Not that that matters in the least. I found this book magical and ethereal in places, but realistic and gritty in others. The fairy tale world is not the Disney version—all sunshine and light—but much more Grimm’s brothers. The settings came alive on the page, and if the characters were a little more distant than I would have wished, this could be just a difference in style between French and English. Regardless, this was a wonderful, enchanting read.

Timothee de Fombelle is a French author who taught literature before heading to the theatre. The Book of Pearl is his newly-translated book.

(Galley provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.)


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