book review · shanti

Anna (Shanti) and the Swallow Man

Anna and the Swallow Man would be a unique book if it wasn’t set in World War Two. It’s a beautifully written story, with lots of history, but a very meandering plot. I still mostly enjoyed it though, and it came on some adventures with me.  *a bookshop gave me this arc for free. This doesn’t change my opinion.*

So the writing is really quite literary. It’s enjoyable to read actually, but it can take a while to get used to. I liked the big words and the way Savit used repeating structure. It’s sort of an experience encapsulated in words, rather than your average chronological writing. This can lead to some confusion– again, it’s not too bad once you’re in the swing of it. It also made me feel a little detached from the characters. I got their actions, but not their emotions.
The historical context was interesting. Poland definitely doesn’t get that much attention from World War Two literature. But the horrible things that happened didn’t surp rise me really. I feel like I would have appreciated this novel even more if it was written about another time in history, because there is so much WWII literature already, and Anna the Swallow Man is ‘fresh’ in a lot of ways, and it would have been easier to see that if we didn’t have Liesel and Marie-Laure and Lina and Joanna (and probably some male characters too) already. The characters were interesting, but again, I didn’t connect to them much because of the writing and it all felt a little old.
Anna and the Swallow Man is also quite low on plot. There’s tension at different times, and mysteries and horrors, and some character development. But theres no united theme that unites the novel. You could see this as a weakness, but I tried to take it in my stride and just enjoy the experience. The thing is, the experience of the story is sort of depressing. I get that real people went through that, and I appreciated the battles and the sadness, but the ending was just barely hopeful. Still, Anna was a lovely character.
Anna and the Swallow Man is well written, and you have to approach it with the right attitude to appreciate. I have no idea who the designated audience was. But the illustrations are kinda nifty, and the writing is beautiful, and it is extraordinarily compassionate.

What is a book you’d like to change the setting of? Have you read Anna and the Swallow man? Tell me in the comments!


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