THE FLUTE PLAYER by Shawn Mihalik, Review: Deep whimsy
The Flute Player Synopsis:
For nearly ten years, young Oliver has begrudgingly accepted his position as the flute player of the peaceful village of Drommar—a responsibility thrust upon him after the previous flute player, and Oliver’s best friend, drowned in a tragic childhood accident.
Now on the cusp of adulthood, a mysterious young woman enters Oliver’s life, and he begins to question the nature of his world and the importance of his place in it.
Genre: Literature, Drama, Fantasy, Young Adult
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I’ll get straight to the point, there is something special about this little novella, The Flute Player by Shawn Mihalik. It really struck a chord with me.
Firstly, I was instantly hooked by the conversational and whimsical tone of the omnipresent narrator. I am an absolute sucker for a bit of intellectual whimsy in literature and this tone was reminiscent of other titles I’ve enjoyed such as Lamberto, Lamberto, Lamberto by Gianni Rodari and The Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stuart .
Mihalik’s characters and the Drommar construct exude an appealing childlike honesty. The lack of pretence with which the young characters explore their feelings and motivations enhances the gravitas of this fable-like tale.
“Thomas’s music was cheerful because he knew his place in the world. Without him, everyone would have drowned in the troubles that life dumps upon us. The music of the flute player allows us to escape those troubles, even if only for a little while, and it is your responsibility to make that happen.”
I quickly became so immersed in the story and only later realised it was in large part due to Mihalik’s prose which is economical but at the same time smooth as silk.
In her face, which was framed by long, lightly curled locks of golden hair, Oliver saw the same heavy-heartedness that he often felt.
Although on the surface very charming, The Flute Player is at its heart a tale that explores the deeper topics of life purpose and the grieving process. Without giving too much away though, it was ultimately the cleverness and at the same time unerring modesty of its telling that really impressed me. I look forward to reading more from Shawn Mihalik in the future.
PS: Some reviewers have said they don’t like the cover. However, I think it is perfect. It, just like the tale it represents, conveys more than initially meets the eye.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 5 / 5 — Overall 4.75
Get your copy of The Flute Player from:
Amazon Bookshop US Book Depository
UPDATE: Read our review of Shawn’s subsequent debut novel Brand-Changing Day.
About the Author, Shawn Mihalik
Shawn was born in San Diego, California, in 1990, where he lived until he was seven. In high school, he won several awards both as a writer for and editor-in-chief of his student newspaper, The Talon, prompting him to study journalism at Youngstown State University before deciding that his passion for writing was better directed at fiction. He then spent several years in Pittsburgh, learning American Sign Language and working with the deaf and hard of hearing.
Shawn currently lives in Youngstown, Ohio, where he writes novels, poetry, and short stories and explores the characteristics of different varieties of wine. His works include The Final Days of Poetry, a poetry collection; and The Flute Player, a novella; and Brand-Changing Day, a novel. Check out Shawn Mihalik’s website.
* My receiving this title free from Asymmetrical did not impact my expression of my honest opinions in this review.