Book Review: Charm & Strange

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 11th 2013
Pages: 216

When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . .

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself. 

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable. 

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present. 

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying. 


This whole review is sort of a spoiler.. sorry… I can’t review this book without addressing what it is about. I’m not revealing everything but I pretty much debunk what this book looks hidden to be in the next paragraph. 

Charm & Strange is a trainwreck you cannot look away from. To quote my husband “you know how to pick em”. Seriously, this book is messed up, prepare yourself! It’s been a while since I read something on these topics: suicide, incest, rape, psychological problems, and more. So if you don’t want to read any of those, don’t. This isn’t a werewolf book, this is a psychological drama filled with all the icky topics we don’t want to think about. But, it was beautifully done and I could not put it down.

Win is beyond messed up. He’s at college and trying to cope but he thinks all his problems will be solved if he can just change into the wolf he was always known to be. Win has dark secrets, ones that lead him to believe he is not a good person and cannot possibly do good things. He’s also pretty sure he killed whoever it was found down by the river, like an animal had eaten him.

Things tilt a bit when a girl enters his life, one that does not fit in, one that he seems to have an affinity for. She’s curious about him and draws him out for a bit. She’s not afraid to say what is in her mind and catches his attention quickly. Then there’s his former roommate, who cares for him but they both have their own problems and have strayed from talking since the previous school year.

The chapters alternate between the past and the present, revealing slowly what happened to Win as a boy and what lead him to be the way he is. It’s not pretty and it’s at first hidden under deep layers of his memory, something he is trying to keep out. Charm & Strange is a short book that quickly catches your attention and grips you quickly. I couldn’t put it down and it’s a short read, so I finished it in a couple hours.


Not for those who don’t like intensity, dark topics, and a tilt a whirl of emotions. Proceed with caution.


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