A retelling breathes new life into E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Christmas classic.
Every Christmas Eve, mysterious Godfather Drosselmeier brings Marie Stahlbaum and her brother, Fritz, handmade gifts. Marie quickly discovers a human-shaped nutcracker under the Christmas tree and immediately becomes enamored. That night, she stumbles upon Drosselmeier performing a magic ritual that brings a huge, fuchsia mouse king into her home to finish a long-fought battle with her toys, led by her beloved—and now quite alive—nutcracker. Marie falls ill after she rescues him, and each day of her recovery, Drosselmeier spins a bedside tale of a princess cursed to transform into a human nutcracker and the astronomer’s son who saves her by embodying the curse himself. Each night, Marie makes a sacrifice to the terrifying mouse king, who demands payment for sparing her beloved nutcracker. A finale that inextricably weaves these two stories together leaves readers to determine for themselves the line between fantasy and reality. Andrewson makes smart choices with her adaptation, refocusing the story on passionate and empathetic Marie, who has the most personality of all the fairy tale–esque characters. Her distinctive illustration style is well matched to Hoffmann’s story, with vivid colors, wavy linework, and exaggerated facial expressions that all reinforce the trippy, unsettling plot. The majority of characters are White-presenting while there is some variety of skin color among secondary and background characters.
Unnerving and uncanny—just as it should be.(author's note) (Graphic fantasy. 8-12)