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A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

And yes, I know that this book has been out for something like three years now. But really, it's never too late to review a book that you like, is it? (That's an actual question for you folks, and not a rhetorical one: Is it ever "too late" to review a book?) I'd like to think that it's not, and that's how I'll be proceeding today. But I'd like that answer, if you have time.

Today's book review is from an Advanced Review Copy that I picked up in 2010, which has survived a number of cullings here at my house because I found the premise so interesting. It is, in essence, an interweaving of a number of Grimm's Fairy Tales to tell one horrifying, unified tale of Hansel and Gretel, from before their births through quite a number of unpleasant situations to a happy-for-now ending. And every so often, there are bold-faced (and I mean that both font-wise and otherwise) interruptions/interjections by the narrator, who sometimes interrupts for coy reasons and other times to warn children that something monstrously awful is about to happen, including a rather general overview of the horrors of the book right near the start. This "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" approach helps to diffuse the tension sometimes, allowing Gidwitz to tell you the story as he's constructed it (again, putting the original, fully creepy versions of Grimm's tales into a book in his own words as a single narrative) without making things SO awful that kids might actually wig out over it.

The interweaving of so many tales ("Faithful Johannes", "Hansel & Gretel", "The Seven Swallows", and more - the book is broken into labelled chapters with the tale names) works eminently well, as does Gidwitz's faith in his readership's ability to (to quote A Few Good Men) "handle the truth." It is somewhat compulsively readable. At first, I was able to stop after reading each chapter and set the book aside, but by the time I was into "A Smile as Red as Blood", I was so hooked that I had to finish my reading at one go.

I am very much looking forward to picking up In a Glass Grimmly at the library, and to the release this October of his final (?) Grimm-based collections, The Grimm Conclusion. If you're a fan of horror or fairy tales (for children or otherwise), this one is a must-read. But of course, as I'm late to the party, you probably already know that.

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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 7th, 2013 09:06 pm (UTC)
No, it is never too late for a book review.

I haven't heard of this book, so thank you! It looks awesome, and I will definitely keep my eye open for it.
Aug. 8th, 2013 12:23 pm (UTC)
I'm sure you'll find it in a nearby library (I hope you HAVE a nearby library, come to think of it - some people do not!), since it won some awards and was generally well-received when it came out. Its "sequels" are actually just different stories, so the books needn't be read in order, as I understand it. (Disclaimer: I haven't read book 2 yet, and book 3 isn't out yet, but book 2 is about Jack and Jill, and book 3 looks to be about Rumpelstiltskin.)
Aug. 8th, 2013 05:55 pm (UTC)
It is checked out of my local library so I put in a request for it. I was happy they had it because most of the time they don't have the books people mention. Ooh, I look forward to reading the other books too. Thank you!
Aug. 8th, 2013 06:15 pm (UTC)
I come from Germany. The fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm are everywhere with us. I'm really looking forward to this book time! Thank you!
Aug. 9th, 2013 03:11 pm (UTC)
I hope that you enjoy it! Gidwitz found a way to bring the original tales to the U.S. population - we usually get watered-down versions!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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