One of the strangest books I’ve ever read – The Great and Calamitous Tale of Johann Thoms by Ian Thornton

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts

Johann Thoms is injured on the estate of a local nobleman when he is young, leading the strange and guilty landlord to take him under his wing. Thoms seems to live a charmed life until he becomes accidentally partly responsible for an atrocity that changes history, and trying to escape his past goes on a bizarre trip through Europe.



I honestly don’t know what to make of this book. While reading it I had no idea where it was going, almost gave up on it several times and was surprised plenty of times. From the story to the framing narrative which I could never really work out, the whole thing was utterly bizarre.

It was clever (I suppose?) how what seemed to be a personal story weaved in and out of real historical events, which somewhat grounded the strangeness for me. I don’t know if it’s at all based on fact (I’d guess not) but then it is all so strange – who would have dreamed this up?

Thoms was a strange character, acting in response to the events around him for the most part. In plot structure it did tell the course of his life rather than of a particular story which could explain some of the strangeness there. And in general the relationships between people seemed bizarre too…

I’m at a loss to describe this. I don’t think I’d recommend it, but I would be very interested to see what some other people have to say about it!

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