It’s not often that I pick up a book without really knowing what it’s about. I have a fairly standard ritual before I make a purchase: I read the jacket and/or back cover. If I’m compelled, I read the first page. If I’m further compelled, I buy it and read the whole thing. You probably have a similar routine of your own.
But there are times when you pick up a book whose jacket and/or back cover don’t really tell you anything substantive, because such early reveals would ruin the reading experience. Chris Cleave’s Little Bee is the last book I bought without knowing the heart of its plot. (If I recall, the book jacket said something like “We can’t tell you what this book’s about. But trust me, you want to read it.”) I read Little Bee in two sittings. When I finished, I sat and stared at a wall (yes, seriously), churning it all in my head. It was that good.
So was Charm & Strange.