Charm & Strange
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Charm & Strange

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  1,943 ratings  ·  561 reviews
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.

Hardcover, 216 pages
Published June 11th 2013 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 11th 2013)
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YA Debuts 2013
80th out of 522 books — 2,367 voters
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40th out of 186 books — 652 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Emily May

Reviewing Charm & Strange requires some seriously careful tiptoeing around the spoiler landmines - they are everywhere. Reading Charm & Strange requires a lot of patience and a reader who can be satisfied sitting through many pages of not having a clue what's going on just to make it to the excellent conclusion. The ending makes this book, it gives the story it's strength, and I foresee many DNFs on the horizon from readers who become restless waiting to find out what this weird little...more
This book takes mind-fuck to a whole new level--and excuse my french, but there is really no calling this one any different.

Charm and Strange is... well it is very definitely strange. This is probably one of the most baffling books I've read. I was unable to stop thinking and questioning and wondering about every single thing that was going on in this book. It felt like it was going to go one route, only to leave me completely bewildered by the direction it did take. While you will likely want...more
Buddy read with Nab & Vilda

FINAL RATING: ★★★★☆/★★★★★

"The story that was too big for me to tell, the one that grew to fill the depths of my being and the far corners of my mind. It’s how I lost my system of meaning… but I haven’t lost everything."

This is a difficult book to review. So, let me start with the rating . Why 4.5 stars? 4 stars is because it was confusing at times and frustrating because you have absolutely no idea what is going on, and extra half star is for uniqueness ....more
Words can't even begin to describe how incredibly impressed I am with this fantastically beautiful and incredibly powerful little novel. I feel like I get this across in each and every review for books I give five stars, but I am not a reviewer who gives five stars easily. In fact, Charm & Strange is the first book I've given five stars this entire year, and trust me when I say it deserves those five stars, and then some.

Not only is this novel endlessly brilliant, but it's masterfully writt...more
Buddy Read with Kristalia!

Rating: 3,5 stars

"My sister was the same way. She thought there was a reason for everything.
Me? I don't think there's a reason for anything.
Not anymore."

Gosh! Reviewing Charm & Strange is seriously hard! This book and I started out on the wrong foot. I'm not quite sure why, but there was something about it that kept bugging me. I think it was because it was so extremely vague at first, that I actually got annoyed a while; I was so confused that it wasn't even fu...more
“Love doesn’t always look nice.”

Few books manage to make me feel this way: cut open and broken and completely overcome.

It’s difficult to talk about Kuehn’s debut in detail without revealing significant plot points; and I do feel this is a book best experienced as it is structured, that is, allowing the story to unwind from Andrew/Win gradually. His narrative is one of violence and blood and glimpses in between shadows, trauma layered deep in shame and visceral pain. His story emerges in fragmen...more
Frankly speaking, I am at a loss for words when it comes to Charm and Strange. On one hand, I think this book is brilliant. Its narrator is unreliable and by the end, you are just as shocked and confused and he himself is, I suspect, if not more. Furthermore, the ambiguous ending had my mind reeling with its realistic quality and the lack of romance was surprisingly refreshing. I have never seen the issue this book tackles expressed in this way before – or even thought to see it expressed this w...more
Wendy Darling
This book is a wild, abstract beast that demands terrible pity--yet it's written with such unerring discipline that it never becomes unruly or mundane.

Recommended for: fans of Black Helicopters, Brooklyn, Burning, Nova Ren Suma, and possibly If You Find Me.

Full text of this review may be found The Midnight Garden. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
Steph Sinclair
OMG. THIS BOOK. I held off reviewing Charm & Strange for one reason: I have no idea how to review a book like this. It’s a psychological thriller that leaves you completely confused until the very last pages. There were literally times where I thought, “Okay, this is dumb” or “WTF am I reading?” But wow. I was left in pieces by the end and I think I might have finished the entire book in one day, which is a feat for me with kids running around all day. I couldn’t tear myself away from it. I’...more
Win doesn't think he's a good person. He's got a beast -- a wolf -- living inside him. He's waiting for that right full moon when he changes completely. When he goes from being Win-the-guy-at-boarding-school-with-no-friends-and-no-reason-to-live to being Win-the-wolf-he's-supposed-to-be. Then, when there's a death near his school's campus and he's convinced he was the one at fault. That the wolf came out and he wasn't even there enough to know it.

Told in alternating chapters of the present and...more
I have this giant banner with HOLY FUCK written on it in black block letters running through my head and I can't seem to muster up anything coherent to write.

This book is a mindfuck. I think it's the first book I've read, ever, that literally confused the hell out of me. Everytime I thought I had it all figured out or was starting to understand, it just took me by the ankles and flipped me upside down.

It's simply so... strange.
It's a bit hard to get into in the beginning, because the writing sty...more
Rachel Hartman
1) I stayed up til 2 to finish it, which just doesn't happen to me.

2) I bawled like a baby, which is also pretty rare.

I don't want to spoil it. Part of the experience is that you're unfolding the truth at the same time Win is (well, a little faster probably, because you're able to admit possibilities he can't). It's a gut-wrenching exploration of dissociation, sanity, and the purpose of metaphor. Win looks crazy to the people around him, but the story is told in such a humane and sympathetic way...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Stephanie Kuehn's debut Charm & Strange is a lot of things: confusing, frustrating, disturbing, thought-provoking, dark, and original. Starting out a career as an author with such an unusual book shows daring. Charm & Strange will not please every reader, and I myself felt largely ambivalent towards it until the very end. Those final scenes, though, helped Charm & Strange coalesce into something harsh but meaningful, something I'm glad to have read, if not understood fully.

Kuehn's wr...more
4.5 stars - Spoilers

-Weird, frustrating and depressing. I loved it. Charm and Strange deserved 4.5 stars just for making me cry at the end, I'm rarely moved to that level.
I don't think this'll be everyone's cup of tea — it certainly wasn't the typical YA novel.

-For the first third of Charm and Strange I thought the story was about this one thing, but then it turned out to be something entirely different… I won't spoil it for anyone. A lot of readers probably won't appreciate that particular 'tw...more
Faye, la Patata
Man, what a strange, yet meaningful and compelling book. This gave my heart backflips, made my brain shut down, blown my mind to smithereens... as in, wow. Just wow. I'm not sure this is going to be everybody's cuppa, as the book was written in a way that reaches out to those who are patient enough to get through the initial confusion, the abstraction, and the snail-like pace to truly understand and get the story. But damn, stick to it and you'll find the journey to the end fulfilling yet also s...more
Check out Scott Reads It for giveaways, reviews and more!
Charm & Strange is this mysterious enigma where everything slowly, and brilliantly falls into place. I couldn't stop reading Charm & Strange at all and I actually read it in one sitting! I kept telling myself that I had to go to sleep but I just couldn't stop reading. This is going to be an extremely hard book to review without giving anything away.

It was actually kind of scary to read Charm & Strange due to all the emotion...more
I don't quite know how to review this book. I went into it expecting something completely different than what I actually got, so I'd recommend going into this book blind. Don't read the blurb, and definitely don't pay any attention to the tags on Goodreads.

It took me a while to figure out that I wasn't going to get what I thought with this one, which made me feel that it was quite weird in the beginning, and I was wondering when we were going to get to the pinnacle of the story, the werewolves,...more
Jun 29, 2013 Feminista rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Feminista by: Ferdy
Shelves: ya-and-new-adult
Buddy read with Kris

A very unique book that made me cry when the pieces started falling into place.

Recommended for everyone.
Bipasha{is eviscerated by fiction}
I really wanted to like reading this book. Really really wanted to. With all the raves pitching it ''psychological thriller'' and ''mind-fu©k'' (I'm sorry, I still can't bring myself to use the word. I know-I'm lame.), I was beyond excited to start it. I'd never venture into this genre before, and now I'm not sure I'll tread there again. In the beginning of the book, I fell in love with the exquisite writing(I've never read lines so beautiful and dramatic.) but despite that, the plot failed to h...more
~~Dani ♥ semi-colons~~
Two words: dark, anguish

This is not a summer read. (I read it in July, but that's beside the point; it's more a book you swallow in one sitting during a winter storm.)

Andrew Winston Winters (alternately known as both Drew and Win) is 16 and a student at a boarding school in Vermont. He doesn't eat. He doesn't make friends. He doesn't talk much. And he suffers from horrible motion sickness.

The first part of the book (the "before") has Win telling the story in the present, while Drew (his younger...more
Jan 23, 2014 Tatiana rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Tatiana by: Catie
Shelves: 2014, ya
4.5 stars

Intense and utterly depressing.
What the fuck...
It’s plain to him what he is and what he’s going to be. It’s in knowing these things that he’s basically isolated himself, pushed everyone and everything away. And though you may think another loner type, who’s dark and brooding, there’s so much more to him. He is the very definition of broken. And it’s in being broken that my heart in turn broke.

The story switches from his present loneliness to a past that’s lonely but not quite. The past held hope and safety almost with his brother, with his...more

So damn stupid. Wow, this is just stupid. I don't even think I want to review this. I can't review this.

There are so many things wrong with the events in this book and the characters in it, especially the MC.

I don't care if they're shapeshifters/wolves, I wouldn't care if they were pencils, this was just ridiculous.


Charm & Strange is kind of brilliant and a lot messed up. I was expecting something twisted and weird, but I was not expecting this. The story is all about Drew/Win, who has been sent off to boarding school and is having what could be referred to as a hard time. It alternates between the present where Win seems to be struggling with...something, and when he was nine and still with his family. The more I read, the more intrigued I became. What's wrong with Win? Why does he feel the need t...more
Jenni Arndt
Actual rating is 2.5, rated up because I did have fun reading it.

So, yeah. What the heck did I just read? I have absolutely no idea how to go about reviewing CHARM & STRANGE, it is most definitely strange I just can’t decide if it held any charm. The one thing that is sticking out in my mind right now is that I feel just as confused upon finishing the novel as I felt at the 50% mark of the novel and I’m sure that’s not a good thing. Since I don’t know how to put my thoughts in review form fo...more
This is a brilliant and truly unique book which wraps the reader up in a rich dark mystery that slowly reveals itself page by page, but not without first leading the reader down many winding paths. As soon as you think one thing you are ultimately led to question everything. It is a book which truly lives up to its name, being both very strange, and having its own rare charm. And the the explanation provided for this rather intriguing title in itself was fascinating.

I loved the sardonic edgy nar...more
*Before I dive into my actual review, I want to put something out there. I've seen a lot of people who were disappointed that this book was not a paranormal romance type book with werewolves. That is indeed not what this book is. If you're looking for a PNR, look elsewhere. HOWEVER, I personally think that this book is so much more than any PNR I've ever read, so don't dismiss it for what it is not. Give it a try for all that it is.*

This isn't the easiest review for me to write because this is o...more
OK! I somehow missed posting this review last year. But, you should all know that this was my top read of 2013. And I really want you to read this.

Originally Posted on:Confessions of an Opinionated Book Geek

CHARM & STRANGE follows Win a sixteen-year-old loner at a secluded boarding school. Win likes to be alone and wonder the nearby woods. He will never play tennis again, even though he is good at it. He lets his fellow students pick on him, although he knows he can destroy them and he never...more
This is one of those books that the less you know the better your experience is. So instead of actually 'reviewing' the book here are instead 4 points why I love this book so much.

1. It is an emotionally heart wrenching story steeped and hidden deep in lush gorgeous language. It's emotional rawness will leave you staggering as you reel from the implications of the narrative. Definitely as the blurb says 'a masterful exploration of one of the greatest taboos'.

2. The mystery is one that will leave...more
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Book Giveaways: UnderHyped Readathon Giveaway! 4 45 Jul 19, 2014 01:59PM  
2014 Hub Reading ...: Charm & Strange 14 74 Apr 09, 2014 07:55PM  
YA Buddy Readers'...: Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn, Start Date: October 6th, 2013 15 21 Oct 06, 2013 03:29AM  
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I'm a YA writer who grew up in Berkeley, California, which is a quirky sort of a place with a ton of wonderful bookstores. My very first job was working in one of those bookstores.

Passions of mine include mental health advocacy, social justice, and sports of all kinds. I currently live in Northern California with my family and our wild menagerie of pets. CHARM & STRANGE and COMPLICIT are out n...more
More about Stephanie Kuehn...
Complicit Delicate Monsters: A Novel

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“She must have seen more of my charm than my strangeness tonight.” 9 likes
“Because blood is blood, and every family has its own force.
Its own flavor.
Its own charm and strange.”
More quotes…