From the publishers' website:
Berlin. The dead of night. Sixteen-year-old Alissa and her best friend Evelin make their secret Christmas pilgrimage to Alissa's father's grave. In the graveyard, Alissa falls through thick snow into an underground crypt. Searching for a way out, she discovers something else: out of the lid of a small coffin coils a strange black plant. Drawn closer, Alissa sees its roots embedded in a young child's heart. This chance encounter sets off a chain of nightmarish events that throw her life into turmoil. Haunted by angels, stalked by her ex-boyfriend, only with Evelin’s help can Alissa reclaim her sanity and discover the truth about her frightening new gift.
I bought this on Tuesday and finished it on Wednesday evening - it was that readable and that compelling.
I found Mr. Drvenkar's work utterly riveting and the prose, translated into English from German, a revelation in style. He conveyed so much atmosphere with few well chosen words. And he didn't skimp on being lyrical.
It is quite a grown up novel - it deals accurately and beautifully with friendships and relationships between friends and family. You really feel for the main character, Alissa the winter child and Evelin, the best friend. And by grown up, I don't mean x-rated (although he deals beautifully and maturely with lesbianism and an ex-boyfriend who is the loving one) but grown up in the sense that he tackles issues pertinent to his two girls in the book and makes them see it through and be the heroes in a very realistic way.
I don't really know how to describe the novel other than saying it is an intimate visit during a period in a young girl's life where she goes through something very strange - I enjoyed it thoroughly. I doubted her sanity, thinking that he was going to cop out and have it all be in her head ... that she was insane... but he had tricks up his sleeve and pulled out a whopping end.
I would recommend it highly - four out of five books!