This book wasn't great, but nor was it terrible. On the one hand I was able to finish it and I was quite interested in the outcome. On the other hand I found the child's voice in the third person telling the story a bit much. It all started to seem a bit contrived. And I found some of the passages almost nonsensical as a result. I also found that the author used every trick in the book to tug those heart strings, they were pretty clearly telegraphed and seemed a bit trite at times. Once I learned to forget about the child-like voice (which was quite hard), the twists and turns weren't really too much of a surprise. But the author did manage to pull it altogether in the end, even if somewhat predictably.
I think the reason it fails for me is because, even though I'm an adult, I still recall being a child. And while I remember having quite a rich fantasy world, and there were times when I interpreted the world in a fairy tale symbolic sort of way, there were also times when the reality of life crashed in on my childish sensibilities. I never got the sense of this tension, it was always the fairy story, never the 'real' world. And as a result, I didn't feel like there was any really growth in Elsa. The birth of her little brother didn't qualify for this in my reading but seemed to simply provide an opportunity to extend the fairy story (I know, I know, I'm being a bit of a grinch, sorry!). She was told the events in a real world sort of way, but Elsa still kept up with the fairy story 24/7.
I really didn't think that the constant child-third-person voice utilised by the author was necessary to illustrate the emotions that a child in her situation would feel, living in a world where events are happening that she can't completely understand, searching desperately for meaning and grabbing onto a lifeline thrown by her fairy-tale telling granny (who if she was my neighbour, I would in all reality probably steer well clear of). Granny was a bit too irascibly perfect and Elsa to endearingly precocious to be true.
I couldn't help comparing it to other books I have read where the story is narrated in a child's voice and I'm afraid this one was left wanting compared to those (Little Exiles by Robert Dinsdale and The Eye of the Sheep by Sophie Laguna, both well worth reading). Sadly, this book falls short.