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.
What I thought
As I am writing about fairy tales for my dissertation next year, I jumped at the chance to review this book. I always love to see what authors can do with fairy tales as everyone is so different in their approach.
As soon as I opened the first page of this book, I could tell that I was going to love it. In his introduction, Adam Gidwitz shows his clear and distinctive voice well, making it known that this retelling is not going to be like others. He explains about original fairy tales that were gruesome and without happy endings and from here, I couldn’t wait to get started with his story.
A Tale Dark and Grimm is the retelling of Hansel and Gretel but with a massive difference. Gidwitz begins his story from the very beginning, before Hansel and Gretel even meet the witch who wants to eat them. I loved the background in this book and the fact that it goes way beyond the famous part of the fairy tale. As Hansel and Gretel begin as not even being born, as a reader, you get the chance to really get to know them and to feel for the things they are put through.
As Gidwitz carries on, the story is nicely interrupted by his unique narrative, speaking directly to the reader which is humourous, intelligent and not without many warnings. The warnings of what was about to come did not ruin the story one little bit but instead, I think it helped a lot. As the book seems to be marketed at slightly younger readers, Gidwitz tells us when the bad parts are about to come and even tells younger readers or their babysitters/ who ever is reading the story to stop right now and not come back!
Again, before Hansel and Gretel meet the witch in the candy house, they do have to go through a whole lot of terrible situations. I really, really loved how mean Gidwitz was to the two main characters. Maybe mean is the wrong word used here though as he does stick as closely as possible to the original as possible. Just when I thought Hansel and Gretel had been through enough already, another, more terrible situation was thrown at them and I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading.
Overall, this book was everything that I could have hoped for. It is definitely not for younger readers though but it is thoroughly entertaining and sheds a light on fairy tales that many people are not aware of. I cannot recommend this one highly enough!
Check back later today for an interview with the author, Adam Gidwitz!!