[Originally posted on tumblr on 23. May 2013]
I finished 'Krabat' by Otfried Preußler yesterday. This is one of the books that was popular with kids when I was little. So yeah, it’s a book that around here is for children, but interestingly tagged as ‘young adult’ on Goodreads. Decide for yourself. After looking through the ‘Krabat’ tag here on Tumblr I figured out that probably a lot of English speaking people were not really familiar with this book or only heard about it or read it in German class (as far as I know there are translations).
It’s the story of an orphan boy who gets lured to a mill by a miller who practices ‘dark arts’. Of course Krabats doesn’t know that when he gets there. You could probably say, it’s one of those ‘boy gets magical powers’ sort of books BUT with a dark undertone because the miller sacrifices the boys so that he himself can escape death (from what I gather he is probably older than normal humans could be, so he might actually rejuvenates himself). Krabat doesn’t know that at first because - let’s face it - he’s still a kid and a bit ignorant at first about the stuff that’s really going on at the mill. There’s an interesting dynamic between the other boys (there are usually 12 of them) and even if you can’t remember all of their names it doesn’t really matter. It’s actually a really dark story for a book that was written for kids.
There’s also a movie adaption in recent years which was extremely ‘dumbed down’ because otherwise it would probably not work as a movie. Or at least they couldn’t aim it at a bigger audience.
Since this book was first published in 1971 the language might appear a bit ‘oldish’. Also, the story is set in the region ‘Lausitz’ (appearently this region is now both Polish and German) during the ‘Great Northern War’ (1700-1721; read it up if you’re interested, it’s not necessary to know anything about it to read this book though). Which means this book has a non-medieval setting that is also not modern and has fantasy elements (the magic, obviously). I wanted to mention that because I know that many people dislike medieval fantasy.
So, if you never heard of this book and decide to read it: keep in mind that it was written for children. Of course that doesn’t mean that adults can’t enjoy it!