Sometimes you come across a book that makes you smack your forehead and go "Why didn't I think of this idea?!". Suffice it to say, for me, this is one such book. Now, everybody here has read the Grimm Fairy Tales, yes? Snow-white, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, etc? Ring any bells? While we read the watered-down, sugar-coated versions back in the days, the original Grimm tales were violent, bloody and down-right inappropriate for little kids.
Adam Gidwitz had the brilliant idea to spin a dark tale around Hansel and Gretel, and trace their path through the myriad of gory Grimmm's Fairy Tales. As the author reiterates over and over in the book, this story is NOT for the little ones.
A Tale Dark and Grimm follows the twins' story starting from their birth to the King and Queen of Grimm, soon after which they are beheaded by their father (long story). But no need to worry, they come back to life and run away from home, scandalized at what their parents did to them. That's when they run into the witch with the house made from yummy goodies. After dealing with her (we all know how that
ends!), they run away from, and into, one adventure after another, before finally returning back to their Kingdom of Grimm to rescue their people from a deadly dragon.
The book is filled with blood, gore, monsters, cannibals, mutilation, death and even the devil from Hell itself! But don't be put off, the author intersperses an adequate amount of humour in-between all the horror, which makes it for quite a charming read in the end, actually (What's a fairy tale without a happy ending?). It is fascinating the way Gidwitz has managed to insert Hansel and Gretel into many of the familiar fairy tales and find a place for their characters in the story.
A perfect read for a Halloween night!