Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.
Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.
What really happened?
Someone is lying.
If you want a book to totally mess with your mind, this is probably it. To be honest, well, Tucholke books have that tendency, but this one had me from ‘Oh, I wonder what this means’ to full-on ‘What is happening?’ Maybe I should backtrack and explain a bit about the book itself. It is about these three teens with odd-sounding names (Wink? Leaf? Midnight?) living in this small town where everyone knows everyone and there is some obscure legend about this house in the woods, but that is not what the story is about. It is about them all together, and well, mind manipulations and help, I still can’t explain this well.
To give a gist, you go into the story imagining these characters – the evil popular girl, the pixie-ish girl and the boy who is stuck between them. Midnight has had it with Poppy, his childhood friend/girlfriend and the aforementioned evil girl, and when he moves in the house next to Wink, the pixie-ish girl, he believes it to be a fresh start to life. Wink is in every way opposite to the wildly manipulative girl he grew up with, so he starts to fall for her, fast. But Poppy, who isn’t ready to let go, starts to bully Wink.
The alternating perspectives also build the story in such a way that you believe Poppy to be the sole villain of the story. She comes across as selfish, manipulative and generally as a bored rich girl looking for a thrill. Wink, on the other hand, is full of imagination and stories, and weirdly enough believes Midnight to be some sort of Hero, to defeat the evil witch. I know, Wink sounds weird but I am guessing that is the Tucholke trademark. Also, this story feels weirdly out of time – like I am not able to place the decade in which it takes place. Midnight is the lovelorn guy who wants to grow a spine, and actually take matters into his own hands. When Poppy asks him to trick Wink, he double-crosses her and pranks her instead. This leads them and Poppy’s minions to believe that she disappeared on that night, spurring a search for her. What we get in the second half is enough to scramble all your notions about storytelling. Suffice to say, I am weirdly enchanted but also very confused with this book. 3.5 stars for this one!