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The Way Back

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  67 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Perfect for readers of Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman, a sweeping historical fantasy that follows two teens on a journey through the Far Country, a Jewish land of spirits and demons.

For the Jews of Eastern Europe, demons are everywhere: dancing on the rooftops in the darkness of midnight, congregating in the trees, harrowing the dead, even reaching out to try and steal awa
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published November 17th 2020 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  67 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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Nov 12, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Annie Childress
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was so nervous to read this book because Anna and the Swallow Man is one of my all time favorites. But - oh man - The Way Back did not disappoint.
The stories are complicated and interesting and so tightly woven together that I couldn’t put it down. It is rich in folklore and brilliantly illuminates the beauty of a child’s mind.
I’m so excited for this book to come out. September 2020 can’t come fast enough!
CeliaMcMahonReads CeliaMcMahonReads
This was a seriously good, but challenging read.

This rich tale based on folklore and myths takes us into a world of demons and other supernaturals. The narrative, and the slow pacing may put off the anxious readers looking for something in your face scary and fast-paced.

We follow two young people who are after the Angel of Death for two different reasons. Bluma, who had stolen something from Death is an entirely different emotional state than Yehuda Leib who is trying to retrive something that
Emma Cathryne
The Way Back is Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere by way of Gregory Maguire's Egg and Spoon , rich with Jewish folkore and a wintery atmosphere that is all its own/ It is one of those stories where the targeted age bracket is difficult to qualify: while you could technically argue that it is a middle grade novel, the heavy themes of loss and grief and death and the impressive commentary about said themes make it a novel that will surely resound with adults as well.

The story follows a boy named Yehuda
Pop Bop
Sep 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Fabulous, But Challenging

This is a marvelous and richly imagined tale of adventure and suspense. But the very richness of the narrative, the supernatural setting, and the cultural connections can make reading some parts of the book rather daunting.

Basically, we follow our two heroes, Yehuda Leib and Bluma, as they travel through a "Far Country" underworld of demons, spirits and folk characters. Both children have suffered the loss of a loved one, and overcoming their grief and anger, while tryin
A'fiani  Atiqah
Sep 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Head over to my blog for a longer review!
Thank you to Times Reads for providing a copy :)

Personal Ratings: 3.5/5🌟

The book tells a story of Yehuda Leib and Bluma, two entirely different children with different life circumstances, and how their encounter with Death has set them off to the land of Far Country, land of demons and non living and their journey to find their way back home ❄️

It was my first time reading a story set in a Jewish Folklore
Nov 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Way Back by Gavriel Savit is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early November.

Knowing second-person narration of a relatively timeless (and cautionary) village and its inhabitants - it shares a similar tone and storyline to Oliver Potzsch’s Faust series, but with regular, ordinary people interacting with Death and his ilk, such as younger villagers being confronted by serious, life-changing choices in order to challenge otherworldly figures and survive.
Nov 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book.
Lynn Mahler
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very whimsical and mystical read, heavy on folklore and demonology. If that's your cup of tea, you should definitely give it a go.

We follow two young people, Yehuda Leib and Bluma. After both of them experience a loss in their respective families and meet the Angel of Death, they embark on a journey through the Far Country - the land of demons. Bluma, having stolen something from Death, is running and scared of having to face Death again. Yehuda Leib is following someone, trying to ret
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is going to be a truly delicious read for fans of ghoulish fantasy in the vein of Neil Gaiman, Frances Hardinge, and Melissa Albert, with echoes of George R.R. Martin and J.R.R. Tolkein -- all wrapped up in a rare, charming package of Jewish folklore.

The story starts in a shtetl called Tupik, where a boy named Yehuda Leib and a girl named Bluma are about have a series of unexpected encounters with Death that will lead them both seperately into the Far Country, beyond the Tupik graveyard. O
Nov 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
As I’m sure most of us can agree, as a reader we love any and all stories. For me my first love was classic fairy tales and folklore so when I saw The Way Back on NetGalley advertised as a historical fantasy brushing the realms of folklore I had to beg for the copy. I was thrilled to receive it and enjoyed every single page.

The Way Back follows a boy named Yehuda Leib and a girl named Bluma as they both chase after the Angel of Death for their own reasons. For Eastern European Jews there is the
Liz (Quirky Cat)
Nov 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of The Way Back in exchange for a fair and honest review.

This is my first time reading anything by Gavriel Savit – however, I've been hearing SO many nice things about The Way Back that I just knew I had to give this novel a try. Plus, this adventure is being positively compared to writing by Neil Gaiman and Phillip Pullman, so how could I possibly ever resist?

Demons and the dead are everywhere – though most stay contained in their own little world. With few excuses to ever
Caitie Deranek
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
What a pleasant surprise this book turned out to be! I anticipated enjoying it, particularly as I have a soft spot for mythology and folklore, Mythology was my first foray into fantasy as a child, and I have loved it ever since. However, I also acknowledge that my own lack of understanding or experience with Jewish folklore puts me at a disadvantage when approaching something like this. It is easier to leap into a mythological world when you are familiar with the god(s), monsters, and heroes and ...more
Courtney | Novel Maven
The story centers around an event -- the wedding of the rebbe's granddaughter. Yehuda Leib is traveling to Zubinsk to see the rebbe when he is waylaid by a dark stranger and enters the land of the dead. He encounters the demon Mammon and loses his memories of the living world.

For Bluma, cemetery gates are where the land of the living meets the land of the dead. She visits the graveyard and enters the "Far Country" with Lillith and her sisters (the Lileen). She is able to avoid the demons with th
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen
Yehuda and Bluma grew up near one another in the tiny village of Tupik. But their lives could not have been more different. Bluma was the daughter of the town baker, raised with plenty to eat and an ever-warm hearth. Yehuda spent his time figuring out where his next meal was coming from and trying to stay out of fights. The two find themselves transported to the Far Country. Yehuda is on a quest to find his father’s soul, which has been added to a demon’s collection. Bluma found herself in an en ...more
If Neil Gaiman had written the Winternight Trilogy, it may have turned out like this. A gorgeously written Fantasy adventure filled with Jewish folklore.

Set in 1800's eastern Europe, two Jewish teenagers are each struggling against the Angel of Death. Yehuda Leib seeks to recover a very special soul, feeling robbed of time with that person. Bluma finds the Angel's spoon, accidentally dropped when it collected her grandmother's soul, and the Angel is trying to recover it. These two storylines int
Nov 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book for review.

This is a fairy tale set in Anatevka (well, not really, but a Russian Jewish village back in the 19th century with all the small town Russian Jewish trappings that you'd expect) that takes its protagonists into the realm of the fantastic and brings them into contact with Death. Literally. Death loses her death-spoon accidentally to Bluma, the girl protag, and is trying to get it back. Yehuda Leib (which is a name that belonged to a
Sep 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, jewish, ya
I wanted to love this book. I really did. The writing is gorgeous. The folklore is woven together so well and brings to light a lot of Jewish mythology/demonology that is generally not acknowledged or represented in mainstream books for young people. My problem was with the main characters. Bluma and Yehuda Leib are both chasing the Angel of Death for different reasons. Unfortunately, we don't learn much about them before their quests begin. Yehuda Leib has a bit more back story, some of which i ...more
Pam Carlson
May 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Yehuda Leib and Bluma live ordinary lives in the tiny shtetl of Tupik. Neither know that they will soon leave their homes and be face to face with Death. When Yehuda Leib’s long gone father unexpectedly returns only to be killed in front of him, he knows he must do whatever he can to reunite with him. After Bluma’s grandmother loses her life in a violent struggle with Death, Bluma retrieves Death’s weapon, a sharp-edged spoon. She uses it to cut away her name, hoping to hide from Death. Separate ...more
Sep 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
I am drawn towards tales of folklore at times. And this one promises to engage that intent as Bluma and Yehuda Leib have their paths continually crossing as they journey to face off Death. Bluma's begins when she witnesses Death coming and going from claiming her grandmother. Yehuda Leib first meets Death as he/she is coming to their small town. He guides Death to the village. But, then he encounters him/her soon enough when facing off with a potential 'villain' which turns out to be his long lo ...more
Oct 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviews
The Way Back very lyrical and fairytale like, and it was lovely to read a story about Jewish culture that wasn’t about the Holocaust. I feel like they are few and far between. It took me a while to get into it but then I was hooked by the creepiness of it. That being said, I found some of the plot confusing and was lost a lot of the time. I don’t know if it was the writing style or just the nature of the vague world of the Far Country. I felt like it was reminiscent of The Cruel Prince and The B ...more
Kim McGee
Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
A fabulous dark journey to the land of the dead by two teens who find themselves bargaining with the Angel of Death, various demons including Lillith and her cat maidens,the feisty Mammon and the army of the dead. Told as an Eastern European fairy tale with its roots firmly in Jewish culture, this mystical journey will entice readers looking for a horror story as well as delight those who enjoy old world fairy tales. Fans of Katherine Arden's THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE or Leigh Bardugo's Grish ...more
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a unique reading experience. It had a very classic fairytale feeling to the style, which when mingled with Jewish folklore (which I have very little reading experience with) made for something really special. It's quite the epic middle grade adventure as the young characters set off to face Death. The characters are well drawn and really drive the story. The fantasy parts of the story are absolutely gripping and held me enthralled, keeping me turning pages and reading well past bed time ...more
Katlyn Ulinski
ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for honest feedback.

This book just wasn't for me. The writing style for some reason just seemed off to me and it was hard for me to connect with the characters as I was distracted by the writing style. I won't be posting a starred review because I didn't finish this book and I also feel like the story this book follows sounds absolutely breathtaking, it just wasn't the one for me.
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
*I received an e-arc from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

This was a wonderful read! Very atmospheric. It gave me The Bear and the Nightingale vibes but Young Adult. I rarely find myself loving YA novels but this one is definitely the best one I've read this year so far. I highly recommend it to those who like slow, atmospheric, character driven reads or those who like stories inspired by Eastern European folklore.
Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Yehuda Leib and Bluma are two regular Jewish kids, living in Eastern Europe. But when they both encounter Death, they find themselves in the Far Country, one running from Death and one toward it. Can they survive the horde of demons that want to capture and use them?

I received an advanced reading copy of The Way Back in exchange for an honest review. To read my full review, visit my blog here:
Rachel Stansel
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
A beautiful and different story. Very much a fable or folk tale feel. I found the book and it's two main characters, Yehuda Leib and Bluma, well defined. At the core, a book about self, life, death and grief, I enjoyed the unique voice.

Full disclosure ' I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Cat Who Reads
Nov 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting read. It's creppy, it's dark and amazing. I read a lot Neil Gaiman books and I love all of them, so when I saw that this book is for his fans, I had to request it. It does, indeed have a same vibe. I read it in a day. I think it's perfect for this cold days and I hope you'll find it comforting as I did.
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: with-my-ears
Narrated by Allan Corduner, Listening Library

Richly-imagined, intricately-plotted tale of two 19th century young people in a battle with Death and the demonic denizens of a fantastic cemetery, drawn from Jewish traditions and folklore. Corduner's sumptuously immersive narration is carefully paced and resonantly voiced, easily delineating the large cast of characters. A real tour de force.
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a story that is visually amazing! Even though its in book form you will dive right in and be taken away to a new world that is breathtaking! I love this story so much! The characters are just amazing and will keep you reading until the last page.
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Gavriel Savit is a New York Times Bestselling author. His award-winning writing has been shortlisted for the National Book Award, and has been translated into nineteen languages. As a performer, he has appeared on and off-Broadway, and on stages around the world.

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