A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved, loved, loved this book! This is the kind of book that I wish I could find more of. I think it was a wonderful fix of humor, horror, suspense, angst, and a great coming of age story. I didn't think that I would appreciate a story with Hansel and Gretel thrown into other fairy tales, nor could their story sustain a full-length novel. I was wrong on both counts. Hansel and Gretel became very dear to my hearts. They started out as little children who were doing what little children did. Living their lives, having fun, basking in the love of their parents and caregivers. Until circumstances cause them to embark out into the cold, cruel, scary world.
Adam Gidwitz doesn't go easy on Hansel and Gretel, nor does he go easy on the reader. There are some very violent, disturbing aspects in this story. For that reason, I disagree with the 9 and older rating. I would say it should be 11 and older. I realize that he is true to the original Grimm's fairy tales, and I know I did read fairy tales at a younger age. So maybe some kids would be fine with it. As a grown up, I winced on some parts myself.
I loved the aspect of the narrator breaching the third wall and talking to the audience as he read. He would warn us to send the little kids to bed or to get the babysitter. He would warn the reader that some very bloody parts were coming, and good thing he did. He would encourage the reader through the very sad parts (and they were very sad). He would make hilarious asides that had me braying with laughter in my car as I listened. My sister told me I was silly when I laughed at some parts yesterday. But it was so funny! This is a truly fun book, guys! And Johnny Heller, the narrator, did such a great job of creating a lively atmosphere for this story. Kudos to him!
A Tale Dark and Grimm is a story of courage. It's a novel that shows that children have depths of endurance, ingenuity and strength that adults often dismiss. I'm not saying that every child could survive what Hansel and Gretel endure, but I think about what kids go through every day, and this message resonated with me. It's also a cautionary tale to parents. Parents need to consider carefully what it means to be a parent, and how much they cherish their children. Are children a means to an end, a possession, or are they worth their weight in gold? I'll leave that to people with kids to decide, although I have my own opinions on that.
My verdict on this book is as follows: Read it! If you like fairy tales, you definitely need to read it. If you see this on audio at your library, pick it up, just for fun. Although some parts are pretty tough, this was a very entertaining and often moving story. I borrowed this from my library, but I definitely want to get my own copy to add to my keeper shelf, preferably with my fairy tale collection.
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