Book Review: The Story Trap by Masha du Toit

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It took me a while to get into this story, but once I did the concept of it and the complexity were compelling. It’s a contemporary fantasy story for young adults set in South Africa in and near Cape Town. The main protagonist, Rebecca, is a young woman just setting out on her own who falls into a deadly trap set by a witch and finds herself experiencing a story from the inside, while her body lies in a coma and gradually declines and decays. Her family struggles to unravel the puzzle of how this happened to her while Rebecca makes her way through the story that has become her life, trying to survive and understand what’s happened to her.

The story acquires lots of layers and levels. The witch’s motivations are not fairy-tale at all, and are even praiseworthy, whatever one may say of her methods. The story weaves together themes of personal struggle, matching ends and means, environmentalism, responsible use of power, and the power of stories to capture and compel. In the end, Rebecca gains an interesting gift from her ordeal. The author adds original illustrations as grace notes.

I did feel the story had more potential than was realized in the execution. It could have been somewhat longer, with more time spent developing the characters of Rebecca, her family, and the good/evil witch and her sister. We don’t get to know them as well as I would have liked. The plot elements also presented possibilities for conflict and tension (particularly Rebecca’s part of it as she moved inside the story trap) that were not pursued. So this could have been a better story than it was, but it still gets my recommendation.

Available at Amazon

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