THE WITCH’S BOY by Michael Gruber


Age Range: 12 & up
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Threading recognizable but artfully altered fairy tales throughout, Gruber crafts a hefty bildungsroman that takes an ugly foundling child from dour innocence through an utterly hellish adolescence to joyful maturity. Discovered abandoned in the fork of a tree by the Queen of Air and Darkness herself, Lump grows up alone, in the care of a kindly, dimwitted she-bear assigned to be his nanny by the well-intentioned but very busy and distracted sorceress. He turns out to be a most disagreeable child, spoiled, selfish, quick to anger, as pigheaded as he is pig-featured, and with a cold, closed heart that refuses to acknowledge or return any kindness—even after his foster mother sacrifices nearly all of her powers in payment for his misdeeds. After several wild reversals of fortune, capped by a disastrous infatuation with a certain miller’s beautiful but empty-headed daughter, the scales do fall from Lump’s eyes at last, allowing him to mend fences with his patient mother, and to find real love with Bluebeard’s blind daughter. One of the least sympathetic characters readers will ever meet in literature, Lump is going to make many a teen, preteen or for that matter, parent uncomfortable—and there’s plenty of grist for fans of Donna Jo Napoli’s fairy tale psychodramas, too. (Fantasy. 12+)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-06-076164-4
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2005