Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She’s alone.
And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see.
The Swallow Man is not Anna’s father—she knows that very well—but she also knows that, like her father, he’s in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness.
Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgment, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous. Even the Swallow Man.
I received an ARC from First In Line. Thank you, First In Line! It was their pick of the month for December. (Yes, I know I am late but it is what it is.) The novel’s release date is January 26th.
Anna and the Swallow Man is a really beautiful story. It is being compared to The Book Thief, both were edited by Erin Clarke (she stated so herself in her letter to the readers). The biggest similarities are that both take place during World War II and center around a young girl.
The prose of Anna and the Swallow Man took some time to get used to. Savit is very poetic in his descriptions of the characters and the settings. There were many uses of metaphors (Wolves for the German Nazis and Bears for the Soviet Russians) that I liked. What also appealed to me was that both Anna and the Swallow Man were multi-linual. Language was a big factor in the story and one line that really stood out to me was “‘War’ is a heavy word in every language.”
I loved the characters (I loved Reb Hirschl most of all – he brought a lighter heart to the story). At times I felt fear for them, as well as hope. There was suspense, some magic, folklore, and heartbreak.