This is the first book by the German author that I´ve ever had the pleasure to read. A compelling story, some gorgeous characters, and a wonderful plot give you real reading pleasure. The cover was the first thing, that I fell in love with and I have to say that when I took it out of the delivery box, I discovered that it looks real in my hands much better than the cover picture does on the publisher´s website. White, red, and black - that sometimes seems to be a mix between a dark blue and black – are the colors who build not only the cover itself but the Yin and Yang symbol. This is on the German edition of the book illustrated as two wings combined with a beautiful glittering diamond.

by Kim Kestner
Publisher Arena on February 1, 2016
Genre Young Adult
Pages 473
Format Hardcover
Source Publisher

For Abby it´s the best time of the year: Every summer she spends the holidays with her family at the National Park Acadia. But this time the idyll is overshadowed. Engaged for entertainment magician Juspinn fascinated holiday guests not only with his show – he seems to manipulate them. With horror, Abby discovers how her Family and friends change more and more for the worse. Virginia is at once madly. Abby itself feels not only the attraction of the stranger but also the danger that emanates from him. Juspinn seems to be looking – for something that only she can give him.(personal translation ©Vi at Inkvotary)
Abby loves nothing more than the time when she and her family are on vacation at the Acadia National park. Okay, she and her sister are having their difficulties with each other and there are quite the opposites in character, looks, and behavior, but other than that? No complaints. But when the magician Juspinn with the look of an unearthly god shows up, everything changes. Abby is drawn to him like she never experienced before and her sister makes it quite clear to her, that she´s the one who wants him and will get him – not Abby. But Juspinn thinks otherwise and a so a game of rivalry and hate starts to unfold between the two sisters. A game as dangerous and destroying as nothing they have ever experienced.

Kim Kestner has a very clear and impressive language. Her writing style is wonderfully easy to read, very pictographic and foreign languages are part of the story. Okay, those pages where you find the translation of the dialogues for those languages set in the footnotes are not really my thing (I hate being disrupted in my reading fluency) but what can you do? Right - nothing.

The novel is put into two parts. In the first one, you get to know the characters and the story is a great piece of how things can be between two sisters. Life at Acadia isn´t for everyone fun and so in the second part the author kind of makes a complete U-turn. All of a sudden the atmosphere changes, the behavior and tone of both sides turn into a dark and something dangerous and Abby has to learn that not everything is as it seems. Written in the personal point of view by Abby and sometimes Juspinn, the game between good and evil becomes more and more intense. The reader gets very early in the book the feeling, that not everything is at it seems, that some really bad things are happening and that only one thing can either save them or destroy them: Love.

The author brings up some things that are quite surprising. So is the huge ball scene of the movie Eyes Wide Shut one a thing you will never see the same way after you´re read what Juspinn calls the “real” story behind it. Or the impression, that one person seems to kind of laugh about a certain lifestyle which Juspinn´s family shows to the world.

At first Kim Kestner portraits characters in such an exaggerated way, which makes the reader react in a very emotional way – and creates a picture by doing so, that not every reader will probably like.

Virginia is an ice-cold bitch, wrapped in beauty, which antagonizes the reader to the blood. She is a figure who gives the meaning of “blonde poison” a totally new meaning. At first, I was alienated by her, then nauseated and towards the end of the book, I felt disgusted by her. You end up asking yourself why in the world she feels such jealousy towards her younger sister and why she acts the way she acts. Her hate, her bitch erratic behavior, and her ignorance against her parents are murderous and fantastic described.

Abby is the opposite of her sister. Yes, she is a beauty too and yes, she doesn´t see herself that way, but the rest is absolutely different. She has a heart where Virginia has only ice. But after a few pages, I started hating her for her need to clean up behind every person, that she felt the force to help everyone whether they want it or not and that she never stands up against the bad behavior from Virginia towards her. That was no showing of the differences between Black and White, no this was the ultimate display of purest, blinding White and deepest and blackest black.

After reading the reader is dismissed with an emotional mix first-rate. I felt stunned, flabbergasted, and very astonished. Anima is no novel you just read, finish, and then go to the next book. This novel requires the ultimate attention of its readers and rewards them with an outstanding plot. A clear recommendation by me.

Happy reading

*This title was at the time of review only available in the German language.

Kim Kestner
 ©Kim Kestner

Kim Kestner, born in Gifhorn 1975, studied visual communication and managed a marketing-agency before she started writing. Since then she published successful Young Adult novels. Anima is her first book at Arena. Kim Kestner lives with her family south of Hamburg, Germany.


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