© Dutton Juvenile
A Tale Dark & Grimm
by Adam Gidwitz
Once upon a time there was a book that retold the fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel. It’s a very dark and twisted version of the story, complete with gore, disturbing plot twists, and the product of a deeply disturbed mind.
I had high hopes for this book when I first added it to my must read list, mostly because I love stories of twisted fairy tales. And for the most part the story lived up to my expectations. While the overall story was good, there is a big part of the book I didn’t like. The author’s commentary. During the book the author interrupts the story to either warn you about what is coming or to explain something. I found this very annoying and unnecessary. Okay, we get it, the story is not one to read to little or sensitive kids. But you don’t need to keep repeating it, even if you are doing it in a playful manner.
Here is a sample, the bolded parts are the author’s commentary so you can see what I mean:
Once upon a time, in a kingdom called Grimm an old king lay on his deathbed. He was Hansel and Gretel’s grandfather – but he didn’t know that, for neither Hansel nor Gretel had been born yet.
Now hold on a minute.
I know what you’re thinking.
I am well aware that nobody wants to hear a story that happens before the main characters show up. Stories like that are boring, because they all end exactly the same way. With the main characters showing up
But don’t worry. This story is like no story you’ve ever heard.
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.
The old king knew he was soon to pass from this world, and so he called for his oldest and most faithful servant. The servant’s name was Johannes; but he had served the king’s father, and his father’s father, and his father’s father’s father so loyally that all called him Faithful Johannes.
Johannes tottered in on bowed legs, heaving his crooked back step by step and leering with his one good eye. His long nose sniffed at the air. His mouth puckered around to rotten teeth. But, despite his grotesque appearance, when he cam within view, the old king smiled and said, “Ah, Johannes!” and drew him near.
The king’s voice was weak as he said, “I am soon to die. But before I go, you must promise me two things. First, promise that you will be as faithful to my young son as you have been to me.”
Without hesitation, Johannes promised.
This was the first 2 pages of A Tale Dark & Grimm, and we’ve already been hinted at things to come. Gidwitz does this throughout the 251 pages of the story. It got to the point were I started to skip over the commentary just so I could enjoy the main story.
As for the rating, if I was to rate on just the fairy tale it gets 4 stars. The commentary gets 2 stars. So I’ll take the middle ground and give the book 3 stars.
Overall Review: ★★★☆☆