The Elephant Keeper’s Children

I have found a door out of the prison.

Darn, a lot of things happen here. It’s a bit exhausting, really. There were times when I just didn’t want to open this book because you have to work hard to follow every plot line.

The one big plot line is about how three Danish siblings, living on an island, have to go through the disappearance of their parents. For the second time. But this time the police is on them right away, several religious leaders show an interest, the authorities try to split the siblings up and because the youngest two are absolute geniuses, they right away know that something’s wrong. Adventures follow.

Two things that I didn’t like about this story: the two youngest characters being absolute geniuses. They have very accurate insights, always have ideas to get out of tight spots, fool every adult and are just in time to save the day several times. Second is that this insight means that with every action, protagonist Peter falls back on an anecdote, a “feeling”, something “deep”. It makes the story incredibly cluttered.

And yet all those details, side plot lines and rubble create a smorgasbord that might not be that accessible, but certainly are entertaining. It’s a decision the reader has to make: work a bit harder to understand or leave this whirlwind of information, detail and silliness on the road’s side.

The Elephant Keeper’s Children, Peter Høeg, Harvill Secker 2012

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