A Tale Dark & Grimm Review

a-tale-dark-and-grimm-book-coverA Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hugh D’Andrade

Dutton Children’s Books, 2010. 978-0142419670

Synopsis: Hansel and Gretel walk out of their own story and into eight other classic Grimm (and Grimm-inspired) fairy tales. An irreverent, witty narrator leads us through encounters with witches, warlocks, dragons, and the devil himself. As the siblings roam a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind the famous tales, as well as how to take charge of their destinies and create their own happily ever after. Because once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: The tagline: Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome. And around Halloween, you can’t avoid a good scary story.

Why I finished it: I tend to prefer comedy over horror (which is possibly the only way I am able to get through The Evil Dead (the original, y’know, with the low-budget special effects…)) and this book seems to seamlessly blend in some humor into the gore that is a hallmark of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. As Gidwitz points out, the originals are quite dark, quite gruesome, and quite definitely not for children, an aside he points out several times over the course of the book. The plot isn’t scary, per se, but it does give the reader the sensation that something cold has gone down their back and may possibly inspire the notion that monsters are going to be hiding under the bed. But for all of the elements of horror that go into creating a scary story, there is the underlying notion that grown-ups really aren’t as wise or as wonderful as children perhaps perceive them to be; children themselves are the wisest and most responsible characters in the book, and their goodness is rewarded, though it takes us until the final pages before we finally get there. It shows us that true fear is a lack of courage, and if you understand that all stories have sad parts, you also know that things will get better. Ghastly and gruesome, Gidwitz takes the reader into the world of what could have been a lame fairy tale that makes us want to fall asleep from boredom and made it, in a word, awesome.

Other related materials: In A Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz; The Grimm Conclusion by Adam Gidwitz; The Apothecary by Maile Meloy; The Apprentices by Maile Meloy; Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz; Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, illustrated by Erin McGuire; The Real Boy by Anne Ursu, illustrated by Erin McGuire; The Familiars books by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson; Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George; Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George; Doll Bones by Holly Black; The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby; Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier; The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente; Guys Read: Thriller edited by John Scieszka; Guys Read: Other Worlds edited by John Scieszka

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