Monday, January 12, 2015

Review: A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Title: A Tale Dark and Grimm
Author: Adam Gidwitz
Series: A Tale Dark and Grimm, Book 1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy (Fairy-Tale Retelling)
Release Date: 4 November 2010

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.

I don't know about you, but Hansel and Gretel was always one of my least favorite fairy tales. They were always so naive, and it felt like they made it out the other side based on chance, and not any particular skill or growth they'd experienced. Here, not so. Here, Adam Gidwitz has imagined a tale that's much longer than the one we know, much more involved, and is actually several shorter tales woven together to tell the whole tale - dark and grimm.

You see, Hansel and Gretel don't just show up at the end of this story.

They show up.

And then they get their heads cut off.

Just thought you'd like to know.

This was, simply, one of the most fun, interesting, and AWESOME retellings I've ever read. I was immediately hooked from the small sample that I read, engaged by Gidwitz's asides to the reader throughout. He's irreverent, snarky, slightly callous, and more than somewhat tactless - and I LOVE it. Beyond his commentary, there's a wonderful ease to the writing of the fairy tales. The voice is simple enough to read aloud to children - though the author warns there are parts that may not be appropriate for them - and fun enough that the whole family will enjoy it.

Before I go on, a word of warning: Grimm's stories--the ones that weren't changed for little kids--are violent and bloody. And what you're going to hear now, the one true tale in The Tales of Grimm, is as violent and bloody as you can imagine.


So if such things both you, we should probably stop right now.

You see, the land of Grimm can be a harrowing place. But it is worth exploring. For, in life, it is in the darkest zones one finds the brightest beauty and the most luminous wisdom.

And, of course, the most blood.

One of the best things about this expanded tale of Hansel and Gretel is that the characters actually go through quite a lot of growth. We start the (overall) story before they're even born, and go through many adventures with them. Their growth and changes are so subtle that I barely noticed it was happening. Each small experience served to make them stronger, smarter, and more compassionate. Though they are still typical fairy tale characters, there is a lot more personality there than I was expecting.

There is a certain kind of pain that can change you. Even the strongest sword, when placed in a raging fire, will soften and bend and change its form.

This book was a real treat. Fun, silly, bloody, and true to the fairy tale form. I'm definitely looking forward to more from Adam Gidwitz and I'm glad I've got the next two books in the series already on my Kindle.

Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome.

I know, I know. You don't believe me. I don't blame you. A little while ago, I wouldn't have believed it myself....

You know how it is with stories. Someone tells a story. Then someone repeats it and it changes. Someone else repeats it, and it changes again. Then someone's telling it to their kid and taking out all the scar, bloody scenes--in other words, the awesome parts--and the next thing you know the story's about an adorable little girl in a red cap, skipping through the forest to take cookies to her granny. And you're so bored you've passed out on the floor.

Grade: B

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