A Tale Dark and Grimm
Hansel and Gretel are best known for their encounter with the witch who lives in the edible house, but in this middle-grade novel, they become the unfortunate characters of a number of Grimm’s other, even darker and more gruesome tales. The narrator (a bit reminiscent of Lemony Snicket) warns young and sensitive readers away, and he’s not kidding — the gore and violence in this tale — although true to the original Grimm — is enough to give nearly anyone nightmares.
The concept behind this novel was a good one, and I looked forward to reading one cohesive story which wove together a number of Grimm’s tales, with Hansel and Gretel as the central characters. I felt, however, a bit let down. This was such a great idea, and so much COULD have been done with it, but it wasn’t. It plays out as a series of the tales, told one after another, in which the siblings take on the roles of the main characters, and then simply decide to move on, leading them to their next misadventure. Although at times previous tales are referenced, there’s very little overlap; they seem to leave each individual story behind at the end of each chapter.
The gore and violence that the narrator warns about is indeed rather gratuitous and overdone. Although this seems it would appeal to an older readership, the language is very simplistic and reads a bit like a classic fairy tale — much telling of the plot, with very little character development or depth.
I don’t think that I could in good conscience recommend this book to a child, and any adult who may enjoy this type of story is probably better off just reading the original Grimm tales and skipping the somewhat silly narrator found in this book.