Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 09 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

One of my favourite tropes in fantasy is the banned/outlawed magic trope, so as soon as I came across this Middle Grade novel on NetGalley, which not only includes that trope but also follows a girl with an interest in STEM, I knew I wanted to give it a try.

Darkwood is the first book in a new fantasy MG series following Gretel Mudd, who ends up chased away from her home of Nearby Village and into the Darkwood after the Huntsmen wrongly accuse her of witchcraft. In Darkwood she falls in with a band of real witches – and a talking spider called Trevor – who, like her, have been forced from their homes, and together they try to put a stop to the Huntsmen’s tyranny.

I had a feeling this book would be funny given that it’s written by one of the writers of the Horrible Histories series, but I didn’t expect it to be quite as funny as it is. I laughed out loud several times while reading this book, and what I loved most was how this isn’t a book that patronises its readers; there are jokes for children and adults alike in here and, outside of the humour, actions have real consequences in this book.

Darkwood is brimming with likeable characters. Gretel so easily could have been one of those irritatingly precocious children who doesn’t feel real, but she’s written with such warmth and a brilliant sense of humour and Hutchinson Crouch isn’t afraid to let her make mistakes that she must learn from. In particular, while Gretel has been forced to hide how clever she is and her particular talent for science and maths because she’s a girl, she herself has been perpetuating harmful stereotypes about the creatures of the Darkwood. I think this book will be an eye-opener for a lot of younger readers without feeling gimmicky or preachy.

Darkwood also includes a lot of fairy tale characters that those of us who grew up with the Grimms’ Fairy Tales will be familiar with, but they’re not quite the characters we know – this book is more Shrek than Disney – and they feel so fresh and original despite being some of the oldest characters in western literature. I’m not going to mention who they are because I think part of the fun is meeting them as Gretel meets them, but I loved her little gang of misfits and I loved this book. I can’t wait for the next one!
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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 ways.

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!

*I received an ARC of this title via Netgalley. All opinions are my own*
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Darkwood features smart, funny dialogue and a brilliant turn on your typical fairy tale characters. I enjoyed reading this one and it was a quick read given the intended audience.
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This book was so entertaining! I'm not quite sure how to classify it, fairy tale inspired? Whatever it is, it's creative, fun, and I enjoyed every minute reading this. The plot twist wasn't quite what I expected which was also great. I am so excited for the next installment in this series!
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A delightful new mashup of old familiar fairy tale characters and themes, with loads of originality and memorable characters. (I particularly adore the cranky Snow with all her axes and armour! And the secret boy witch Hansel with his unfathomable powers.) The characters have depth and can certainly sustain a series of adventures. Themes deftly and humorously tackled head on in this book: gender stereotypes, racism (underlined as species-ism), authoritarian governments, political asylum, to name a few.  There is an abundance of juicy ideas to relate to real life and discuss with young readers delightfully delivered. Definitely looking forward to the next instalment and very curious to know which contemporary themes Gabby will be tackling next! I think this may well turn into one of my all time favourites.
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A dark, sarcastic, and freaking hilarious retelling of Hansel and Gretel, with a few other fairy tales thrown in.
Gretel bites off a whole lot more than she can chew when she escapes into the Darkwood and accidentally joins a gang of witches.  But she can handle it, she can do maths.
It reminds me a bit of Discworld and it was nice to see that the author did get inspiration from that among other sarcastic magical stories.
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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The story is a fun re-telling of a mixture of fairy tales and fables. Witty and colorful, the story of Hansel and Gretel comes to life in new ways. Memorable characters, jaunty plot, impish humor, and great dialogue make the pages fly by. Eager to see where this series goes.
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Darkwood is a book aimed at ‘middle grade’ or YA readers. It is a fairytale with a twist. There are ogres, huntsmen, magic and of course witches all of whom come together is a enjoyable and entertaining adventure  story. This is very much in the vein of Pratchett or Maxwell, and equally as much fun. 
My 11 year old devoured it and I enjoyed it too, I would recommend it to adult readers as well. 
This is the start of a series and I cannot wait for the book.
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Any fairytale retelling is a great read in my opinion and it is a sure trope to get me to buy it.
Loved this one which had a reminiscent feel of the Brother Grimm and Angela Carter in certain ways. 

Absolutely had me hooked. 

Will be on the lookout for more from this author
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Hansel & Gretel Meet Snow White . . . and Jack in the Beanstalk and Unicorns and Centaurs and Ogres and other magical and mythical beings.  Most fairy tales seem to exist in monarchies, but the King has been overthrown and the Princess has fled to the forest.  Dystopia is ruled by masked creatures who, thinking magic is the venue of women, have restricted the education of girls (no maths allowed!) and condemn witches to death--or the forest.  Written with a great deal of snarky humor, with interesting twists on the stories from our childhoods.
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Thus isa Kind of Haensel and Gretel Story like the Grimm Brothers wrote it. But with witches, speaking animals . They have to win a war against real bad  guys.
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Can't wait for more in this series. A cool take on classic fairy tale figures, but also relevant to modern happenings. Great characters, fun plot. I will definitely pick up the next book in the series.
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This book had was an enjoyable middle grade read. It took some already well known fairytales and it added a slight darker feel to them, which made things more fascinating.

Overall, Darkwood was a decent book, but I don't think that it was exactly for me. Maybe someone else would enjoy it more than I did.
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This is a very very funny book. I saw in other reviews references to Pratchett and I definitely see the potential for the next Terry Pratchett. Very funny with a very good story.  The story has a lot of fairy tale elements. Hansel and Gretel are the main characters. They are NOT the Hansel and Gretel everyone has grown up with. They are siblings and have the names but the similarity ends there. Snow White is also a major character in the book but Snow is nothing like what you remembered either. The Magic mirror, Jack and the Beanstalk and the gingerbread house are all key parts of the story. I would definitely recommend reading this if you are into Pratchett.
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I received this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The only reason I requested this book was because Heathur @ Aphrodite Reads raved about it. I sadly, do not share that opinion. When adding this to my ‘currently reading’ shelf on GoodReads, I was very surprised to see that it’s a middle grade fantasy. I’d only gotten about 10% into it before adding it on GoodReads, but it didn’t seem like a middle grade story to me. 
My first issue with this being middle grade is the language. There were a handful of words that I didn’t know the meaning of and others that I know but younger readers would likely struggle with. If you’re going to write a middle grade book, you should make sure the intended audience won’t have to look up words every few pages. 
The next issue was the writing style. The story jumped all over the place. It was told through the perspective of a bunch   of different characters but there wasn’t really any warning when the perspective changed. It would have been different if these changes had been confined to their own chapters. But there were POV changes mid chapter, more than once. 
As for the story itself, I think there was some real potential here. There were a combination of fairytale characters that were a part of this world. The Darkwood also reminded me a bit of The Wood from Naomi Novik’s Uprooted. I was excited to see where the story was going in the first half, but the ending seemed rushed and so many things left as loose ends. I assume there is going to be sequel, but too many things were left unresolved for my liking. 
Overall, I thought this story had a lot of potential, but I didn’t love the execution. Though others have really enjoyed this story, so take my review with a grain of salt. 
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.
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Thirteen year old Gretel Mudd is very clever in a place where this trait in girls leads to suspicions of witchcraft. As a result, Gretel is banished to the terrifying Darkwood where she meets an assortment of witches and fairy-tale creatures. Alongside her new companions, she must save her family and home from the dangerous Huntsmen. 

Darkwood is a wonderfully humorous tale, suitable for middle grade to adult. The narrative tone is an incredibly witty and readable way of dealing with some deeper issues such as prejudice and abuse of power. 

Gretel and her friends are quirky and likable, with plenty of clever quips and sarcastic remarks between them. Gretel’s new companions include some interesting takes on some familiar fairy-tale characters. I particularly liked the portrayal of the slightly inept Huntsmen and their ridiculous, hypocritical leader.

This is the first in The Darkwood Series, but stands alone well as a self-contained story. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes new interpretations of fairy-tales, or who just likes a fun read.
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This book was a lot of fun. It had an interesting concept and delivered it well. I enjoyed it immensely.
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What a wonderful fairy/folk tale mash-up. And a fun re-imagining of characters. It's a book about family, tolerance/intolerance, acceptance, grief, the joy of family and friends. How fear can turn to hate and power to horrible acts of inhumanity. Thrown in are several moments which made me laugh. There's so much going on and so many characters to win your heart or wish they'd just turn to cake. More, please!
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What caught my eye about this story was the fact that it had the feel of olden fairy tales (like Grimm’s) yet was modern and fresh. I loved the idea of a magical “forest” filled with darkness, beasts and witches. Gretel and her adventures called to me. I very much enjoyed this YA story and would love to read more in this world. A mixture of classic fairy tales mix together seamlessly, and they create a magical world for any reader to get lost in. 

No one is safe in Deadwood, not even the dead, but Gretel thinks soon finds herself immersed into the life of Deadwood when she is accused of being a witch. Gretel (against her society’s beliefs) is smart; she uses math, engineering and all that related sciences to help her in the world (females are not to do math/science). I loved that she stayed who she was and would not form to expectations. 

In Deadwood she meets the most interesting and fun/scary creatures. I loved this world and all that it inhabited. The creatures were so vivid and amazing to read about. These (I think) made the story for me. I would love to get to know these people/creatures and be a part of this amazing world. I don’t want to give away more as I truly think that this world is best experienced as you read, but it really enjoyed the adventure.  Oh and if there was ever a creature/familiar that fit me this story has it! It’s a talking spider and yea, that would be my dream! 

This story is so much more than just a modern retelling of some favorite fairy tales but if you just want to read it for the entertainment value, you won’t be disappointed! I highly recommend this story and I will be adding it to my “buy for friend's children” list! I received an ARC via NetGallery and Farrago and I am leaving my honest review. 

#NetGallery #Darkwood #FairyTales # MustReadYA #AdventureReading
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I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.   Thank you NetGalley & author.

LIke some of the other reviewers, I initially didn't realize this was a middle grade book.    It was an unique storyline, a fun take on fairytales and the such.    My daughter whom is in 4th grade also really enjoyed it!
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