You mustn’t go into the Darkwood, children. Not even to get your ball. Leave it. That ball belongs to the Witches and the Beasties, now. Those wicked Witches. Stealing your ball. Magic is forbidden in Myrsina, along with various other abominations, such as girls doing maths. This is bad news for Gretel Mudd, who doesn’t perform magic, but does know a lot of maths. When her clever inventions prompt the sinister masked Huntsmen who run the country to accuse her of Witchcraft, she is forced to flee into the neighbouring Darkwood, where all the Witches and Monsters dwell. There, she happens upon Buttercup, a Witch who can’t help turning things into gingerbread, Jack Trott, who can make plants grow at will, the White Knight with her band of Dwarves and a talking spider called Trevor. These aren’t the terrifying villains she’s been warned about all her life. They’re actually quite nice. Well… most of them. With the Huntsmen on the warpath, Gretel must act fast to help the Witches save both the Darkwood and her home village, while unravelling the rhetoric and lies that have demonised magical beings for far too long.
This book was truly spectacular – the writing style and
humour very much reminded me of Terry Pratchett, using familiar themes and
spinning them in unexpected and hilarious directions. Crouch touches on social
issues like fake news, gender roles and talking spiders in fun and entertaining
This story features some of the most famous characters in fairy tales and has them all interacting with each other, turning their stories on their heads. There are brilliant hints about what we can expect in the next part of the story too, which I’m very excited about!
The book is listed as a middle grade title but this is more than suitable for adults too – I would recommend this for all fantasy readers who enjoy a giggle!