Oh gosh, where to start?
David Pettyfer works at The Owl And Pussycat bookshop in central London.
He prefers to walk on the rooftops to get to his destinations, as he likes being alone and away from all the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of London.
One night, while on his way to deliver a very rare and valuable book to a customer, he stumbles upon a girl up on the rooftops. She looks as though she is in severe pain, and David goes over to check on her.
The girl in question says that her name is Heaven, and that her heart has been stolen by ‘bad men’. This is strange to David, as Heaven is obviously still alive, and no one can live without a heart, can they?
Heaven claims that she is not lying, and she is still alive, so there is obviously something weird going on……
So begins David and Heaven’s quest to find out who these ‘bad men’ are, why they stole her heart, why she is still alive and if they’ve done it before.
Along the way, we meet characters that are utterly despicable, and likable and creepy all at the same time. Christoph knows how to create a character and make us fear, sympathize, love or hate them deeply, and this shows in the book. The characters are amazingly well fleshed out and truly engrossing to read about. I found every single character interesting, including a receptionist at Canary Wharf who only has 3 or 4 lines!
The writing style is easy and flows effortlessly and that surprised me, as this book was originally published in German in 2009, and then translated to English and published by Orchard in 2012. I have had bad experiences with translated books before, often finding the story hard to follow, the dialogue not flowing or the book just not making any sense whatsoever. Chrisroph Marzi has no reason to be fearful of that with this translation, it was the best translated book I have ever read, and probably will ever read in my lifetime.
Without giving too much away and spoiling the story for you, the mix of magical realism and modern fairytale woven throughout this book is executed perfectly, and just at the right moments.
There are also four ‘interludes’ throughout the story, which serve as a kind of ‘catchup’, allowing us to keep up with the ‘bad men’s’ progress, ultimately sliding a dark undertone through the book and creating a sense of real panic sometimes, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
This book is written in a way that will make you think, and maybe even question some things in your life.
It reads like a movie script and the writing is poetic and vivid and captivating all at once. I can honestly say this is now one of my favorite books of all time, and I urge you to pick it up and give it a go, you will not be disappointed.