Die Blätter des Herbstbringers (Fabienne Siegmund)

Die Blätter des Herbstbringers (literally: The Autumn Bringer’s Leaves) is a novel by Fabienne Siegmund. There is no English translation available as far as I know.
Finished on: 25.7.2022

Content Note: rape, sexualized violence, intimate partner violence

When they were very little, Ari and his best friend Mira witnessed the murder of their parents. Only that nobody believes that it actually was murder. Now they are both adults, but both are still caught up in what happened then. Especially Ari is barely able to move on with his life. Meanwhile, a strange figure roams the city at night, catching criminals for the police, leaving behind small gemstone leaves. Dubbed the Autumn Bringer by the press, they seem to have a connection to Mira and Ari.

Die Blätter des Herbstbringers was a bit of an exhausting read for me. I was constantly debating whether I should finish it at all. I did in the end, but I could never really connect to the book.

The book cover showing leaves in fall colors. There is a blue eye in one of the leaves.

I think my main problem with the book that it was written in a way that was obviously meant to be poignant and lyrical, but that felt too artificial for me, trying so very hard but never getting the emotions across that I would have needed for the story to work. I can see this writing style working for other people, but for me it just never came together.

And that’s not even mentioniong smaller irritations like the fact that the Autumn Bringer is only referred to as “die Gestalt” (the figure) in the beginning, a grammatically feminine noun that would have called for the pronoun “she”, but was combined with the pronoun “he”. A choice that was not only grammatically irritating but actually worked against the plot because it made the gender of the Autumn Bringer pretty obvious – when the book is trying to surprise us with his identity (it doesn’t work, it is absolutely obvious from the very start who the Autumn Bringer is, and there was never a second of doubt in my mind). Using the grammatically correct pronoun could have actually extended the intrigue.

The other big problem I had with the book is that the Autumn Bringer mostly hunts down rapists. This was a problem for me because a) those rapes all happen in the public sphere by strangers – exactly like practically none of the rapes in real life do, contrary to how they are often portrayed, thus reinforcing a harmful notion of what rape looks like. And b) the victims of those attacks are pretty much entirely irrelevant, relegating the rape to the status of a trope to give the Autumn Bringer’s questionable morals a sheen of being not that questionable. That’s not how sexualized violence should be written about.

The imagery of the novel is strong, but, as I said, I couldn’t get into it. The main reason for me to keep reading (apart from the fact that I still don’t make quitting books easy for myself, though I probably should) was that I was curious to see whether it would actually suprise me with the Autumn Bringer’s identity after all. With all the secrecy, it was obviously convinced it would. It did not.

Summarizing: this was not the book for me, I’m afraid.

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