I love fairy tales of every shape and shade of dark. From Disney to the tales of Brothers Grimm to the even darker fair that comes out of Russia (seriously, they’ve got some creepy fairytales from there) I just eat them up. So when I saw this little gem in my school’s library, I snatched it up because I wanted to get back to reading MG novels. So did this fairy tale have a happy ending? Let’s take a look.
Plot Summary- In this mischievous and utterly original debut, Hansel and Gretel walk out of their own story and into eight other classic Grimm-inspired tales. As readers follow the siblings through a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind (and beyond) the bread crumbs, edible houses, and outwitted witches.
Fairy tales have never been more irreverent or subversive as Hansel and Gretel learn to take charge of their destinies and become the clever architects of their own happily ever after. (Plot summary according to Goodreads)
The Characters- The characters in this book are charming. In fact nearly everything in this book is charming, but especially the characters. I love Hansel and Gretel’s strength and cleverness. I love to see them get in and out of situations, and the characters around them, who often only make brief cameos in their stories, make a memorable, visceral impression. This is a story of vignettes though it does have a larger plot, and I really like the form. Its all tied together by a narrator who might as well be a character himself. He’s witty and frank. Its hard to pull of the Lemony Snicket effect with any degree of success, but Gidwitz definitely succeeds here. Also, shout out to the three ravens. I love the three ravens.
The Good Points- This book is charming. Have I mentioned that before? Because it is. Through all the gory and scary moments it just oozes charm. Its as dark as the original fairy tales but it never takes itself to seriously. It read really quickly and presented its characters with a variety of unique situations, taking some lesser known Grimm fairy tales and bringing them into the spotlight. My personal favorites vignettes were the Three Golden Hairs, where Hansel has to trick the devil to escape eternal torture in hell, and the blood red smile, where Gretel finds herself taken with a young man who might not be what he seems. They gave me the shivers and the chuckles and were all around great fun to read.
The Bad Points- There aren’t many bad points but if you have a hard time with narrators who address the audiences or stories that stress character and vignettes more than plot, this might not be your bag. And you have to like fairytales because this is a fairy tail from start to finish. Its not the most ambitious story, but it does its job well for what it is so I can’t find many things to criticize.
Over all a journey through the dark forest oozing with thrills, laughter and, yes, even charm. I highly recommend it to any and all lovers of the old Grimm tales and to anyone who likes a touch of darkness in their whimsy.
Final Rating- 4/5