An embellishment of an age-old folk tale that adds intriguing elements while remaining faithful to most of the original...

Hansel and Gretel


A novella offers a retelling and expansion of “Hansel and Gretel.”

Following the broad strokes of the original folk tale, Klaassen (Fiction-Writing Modes: Eleven Essential Tools for Bringing Your Story to Life, 2015, etc.) adds descriptions and a few plot changes. Young Hansel and Gretel overhear their mother and woodcutter father discussing their plan to take the children deep into the woods and abandon them to avoid their own imminent starvation. In Klaassen’s version, the children’s mother is not identified as a stepmother, and although their father hesitates to accept the plan, he eventually agrees. Hansel gathers reflective stones and leaves a trail when their parents lead them away, enabling him and Gretel to find their way back. Their parents, while happy when the children return, still can find no solution other than to abandon them in the forest. This time, Hansel leaves a trail of bread crumbs, with predictable results. The hungry children follow a magical white bird, first to a berry-laden bush, then to a gingerbread cottage inhabited by a cannibalistic witch who plans to fatten up Hansel for her next meal. This modern variation has Hansel, rather than Gretel, push the witch into the fireplace, ending the spell she has cast over the forest. Klaassen’s development enhances certain aspects of the story, such as the suggestion that the witch’s spell caused the famine; by killing her, Hansel ends the enchantment. But his reworking of the common fairy-tale device of the evil stepmother—making the children’s biological parents complicit in plotting their deaths—is more disturbing than the traditional version. More unsettling still is the children’s determination to return to their parents, perhaps to provide another opportunity for attempted murder. While Klaassen’s addition of descriptions, sensory details, and dialogue brings depth to his novella, there is a certain beauty to the spareness of the original version. Nonetheless, by eliminating the obvious villain, the author allows for more contemplation and discussion concerning both the parents’ difficult decision and their children’s innocent forgiveness.

An embellishment of an age-old folk tale that adds intriguing elements while remaining faithful to most of the original story.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2016

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.


Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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