Cover Image: The Witch in the Woods

The Witch in the Woods

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Member Reviews

This was a cute, but somewhat silly book. If you're a young, fantasy lover, than this is likely to be right up your alley!

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I was transported into the realm of fairy tales as I read this book. I love the relationship between siblings Willow and Jake and how together they are a united force, both at home and in the world of the Grimm; Grimmworld. Willow has always been able to adjust to new schools and new situations, but she finds herself at odds when she and Jake begin school in an obscure location far from the world they have always known. As life in the world becomes stranger and scarier, they learn they have only themselves to rely on as Jake and Willow find themselves more and more immersed in the fantastical world of The Tank. Discovering they are descendants of the fairy tale world is both a blessing and a curse; a world where fairy tales come t life, and they are not always they happy ending kind. Together they realize they have to save their parents and the future of the world.

The plot is complex and it twist and turns darkly, as it does in the world of the Brothers Grimm. Grimm tales were not often cheerful and light, and this book is much the same, but fun, also, and super intriguing. Very much worth the read to readers of all ages.

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In a Nutshell: A middle-grade fantasy that combines the modern with the medieval, with a smattering of fairy tale components as well. A bit cluttered in its approach but has some amazing moments. Gets a bit dark, so not for sensitive kids.

Plot Preview:
Twins Jake and Willow Grimm, almost 11, are moving to an isolated town called New Marburg as their parents have found a new “top-secret” job with a tech company known as “Think Tank.” They are stunned to see that the town, disconnected from all other places and not even on the map, is a futuristic place, with robots working as traffic cops and senior citizens indulging in lightning-sword battles for fitness.
However, the one place in New Marburg that is not at all modern is their new school, where, for some mysterious reason, their teacher hates them and does her best to make their lives miserable. Just as they wonder how to tackle this situation, there is a freak lightning storm, and their world changes… literally. The twins find themselves in a medieval castle, and their friends have been transformed into fairy tale characters, not necessarily good ones.
Now Jake and Willow have to figure out not just how to get home, but also how to rescue their best friends, who are Hansel and Gretel in this new world, and in the captivity of the wicked witch. Will Jake and Willow be able to navigate the Cursed Forest and save their friends? Will they be able to return home safely to their parents? What caused this upheaval of the universes?
The story comes to us in the limited third person perspectives of the twins.

Bookish Yays:
🍦 The twins: Contrasting characters, with Willow being an art and sports lover and Jake being a science and video game nerd. So between the two of them, they cover all the skillset needed by fantasy characters. Loved their sibling bond as well.
🍦 The other characters are also a mix of interesting and complicated. The twins’ dad with his “punny” jokes was hilarous. The fantasy characters seem to pay an ode to various beloved children’s stories even beyond fairy tales. The wicked teacher reminded me of Miss Trunchbull from Matilda while ‘Old Eli’ was like Doc from the ‘Back to the Future’ movies.
🍦 The story can be called a ‘fantasy for the nerds’, with many geeky scenes that delighted the inner nerd in me. The multiverse angle also is appealing. At the same time, I love how the book doesn’t elevate the nerds while criticising the “cool” kids such as musicians or sports lovers.
🍦 There are a few life lessons incorporated into the storyline. Some are subtle; the rest are direct. Almost all offer good advice.
🍦 The Grimm connection, as evident in the title and the siblings’ last name, is strong. I enjoyed the inclusion of the Grimm fairy tale elements, especially as these are as dark as the original tales and clearly dismiss the sanitised Disney versions.
🍬 The worldbuilding is fabulous. A bit too much for a single book, but still, very creative.
🍦 As someone who loves riddles, my favourite part of the story was the *challenge*. It was creative, thrilling, and the main reason my rating is rounded up.
🍦 The author's note is sweet and amusing. Enjoyed reading it!
🍦 A shoutout to that fabulous cover art!

Bookish Mixed Bags:
🍬 The title tells you that there is a “witch in the woods”. But to encounter this witch, you need to have a lot of patience because she doesn’t pop up until about 40% into the story.
🍬 The first half is a bit slow. Once the big reveal happens, the action amps up.
🍬 The darkness was great for me but some of the content might be too scary for younger or sensitive kids. Those comfortable with books such as Neil Gaiman’s Coraline will be able to manage this one easily.
🍬 The story feels somewhat cluttered and disjointed because of the number of varied plot points it tries to include. There is futuristic scifi, a nightmarish teacher, a medieval castle, a wicked witch, a riddle-based challenge, a talking animal, a multiverse, fairies, a time-jumping weirdo,… While some of these are handled well, having all in the same book is an overkill. The jump from sci-fi to medieval takes the most time to adjust to as it is almost instantaneous.
🍬 There is some foreshadowing in the initial part of the story, but I am not sure how I feel about it. It creates suspense but it also reveals major plot elements. I prefer foreshadowing to be softer in approach.

Bookish Nays:
🍭 Many plot points are left unexplained. This might be because this book is the first of a planned series, but the number of incomplete arcs is too many to be satisfactory. The ending is not exactly a cliffhanger, but it does tell us where the next book will take us. I hope it resolves the unanswered questions as well.
🍭 Personal preference: I don’t like MG books to talk about attractions and crushes. It is relatively minor in this book, but it is still annoying,
🍭 Why are there no illustrations in this book? MG fantasy books work so well with illustrations, and this one has plenty of illustrative opportunities because of that plotline.

All in all, a semi-satisfying experience. The first half was way too chaotic for my liking, but the second half, especially the challenge scenes, saved the book. I am still interested in reading the next volume of this series, mainly to answer my curiosity about how the incomplete tracks are resolved.

3.5 stars. (3 stars for the first half, 4 stars for the second half. Averaging the two and rounding up because a good ending is always better than a good beginning.)

My thanks to Shadow Mountain Publishing and NetGalley for the DRC of “The Witch in the Woods”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.

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"The Witch in the Woods" by Michaelbrent Collings is a captivating blend of Grimm fairytales and modern-day wonder. Twins Willow and Jake embark on an adventure filled with sci-fi elements, mysterious technologies, and a fairy tale forest. Their bond, clever storytelling, and unexpected twists make this middle-grade novel a delightful read. With its imaginative blend of genres and engaging plot, I think it deserves a solid 4 stars!

Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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I absolutely ADORED this oh my god

Jake and Willow are exactly the protagonists I love to see in middle grade novels, they know their strengths and weaknesses and lean on each other through it all to get the outcome they need. I loved their sibling dynamic as well and how much they cared about each other.

The world was also spectacular. I absolutely love fairytale’s, especially Grimm’s Fairytales, so seeing them retold in this whimsical way was so amazing. I felt like i was actually there in Grimmworld with these characters and felt goosebumps at the stakes.

I can’t wait for the next book!

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I’m going to preface my review with the fact that I was able to read an advanced reader ebook copy of this novel in exchange for honest feedback. Thank you to #NetGalley

I really liked the idea behind this book and feel that it may have potential as a series. However, I’m not entirely certain which age group this fits into. The novel is written with the genres of fantasy and science fiction woven together with fairy tale elements sprinkled in. There are a lot of details and there was an overwhelming number of events thrown into one book. The concepts would best fit an upper elementary or middle school reader. The classification problem is that the writing style of short, simple sentences best fits the younger age group - think “Magic Tree House” books age range. This book didn’t contain any illustrations, which was disappointing as I think they would enhance the reading experience. The niche for this book and the series to follow would most likely be older, reluctant readers. I hope that some black and white illustrations can be added. I’m definitely interested to read the next book in the series to see where it goes.
-3 stars

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I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with an ARC.

I didn't enjoy this one. The writing didn't mesh well with me. Despite having an interesting premise, I didn't feel like I was drawn into the story at all. I didn't really feel drawn to the characters or world.

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A bit slow in the beginning but well written with a good story. The anxiety of being the new kids with a grumpy teacher was one I could feel along with them. Kind of a weird premise but kids who like dark fantasy should enjoy it!

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Collings, Michaelbrent, Grimmworld: Witch in the Woods

When their parents get new jobs in New Marburg, Idaho, 11-year-old twins, Willow and Jake Grimm find themselves in a strange, new town a concoction of a famous billionaire. Nothing is as it seems. They even see a car levitate. The cops in town are robots. At school, their teacher, Mrs. Houseman, hates them and forces them to obey weird rules. Hall monitors at their new school are aggressively mean. When their father makes a breakthrough at the Tank, where he works, during a terrible tempest, the twin’s universe starts to blend with Grimmworld. This parallel universe is a place where fairy tales are real and there are no happy endings. To return to their own standard dimension, the twins will have to pair up with Old Eli to delve into the mysterious origins of their current locale and how it ties to their family’s history. Will they ever make it home? How does their family’s past affect their present?

The plot is well-developed and engaging. The world building is intense, well portrayed, and draws the reader into the story. The characters are intriguing, well-rounded, and help bring Willow and Jake’s world to life. Fans of mystery, fairy tale retellings, Chris Colfer’s Land of Stories, and adventure will want to pick this one up. Recommended for most library collections. Gr 3 to 6, 5 stars

Please note: This was a review copy given to us by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No financial compensation was received.

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I enjoyed reading the first installment of Grimmworld, it was a different take on the Grimm’s fairy tales that most people know already. I liked how the main characters were descendants of the original Grimm brothers and they get wrapped up in a story of their own. The descriptions were so detailed, that it was easy to picture what was going on. I look forward to the next book in the series.

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Mishmash of stories and adventures but it didn't flow well. Never really caught my interest and finally gave up on it.

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Twins Willow and Jake Grimm are making a reluctant move with their parents to New Marburg, Idaho. Both dad, Phil and mom, Dorothy have new jobs at The Think Tank Company.

Weird things happen from the get-go. Before they even leave on their cross country road trip, Willow and Jake are attacked by a strange man. Their parents react like nothing happened. Next, when they arrive in New Marburg, it’s a town full of inventions like flying cars and robots.

Things getting even weirder when school starts for the twins. Their new 5th grade teacher is mean to them, always degrading the two for academic and behavior shortcomings. None of which are true. They don’t even get regular desks.

Soon enough, the school turns into a castle with a creepy hall monitor monster. They are suddenly in Grimmworld, where fairy tales live including Hansel and Gretel.

The wild adventure in GRIMMWORLD begins and without giving away anymore of this creepy plot, you meet a wizard, one nasty witch, and a naked mole rat. It all comes together in a “What’s going to happen next?” surprise from one chapter to the next. The ending sets up Book 2 making this series perfect for fans of fantasy and fairy tale plots.


1. The world building is an engaging accomplishment, giving you the sense of being alongside the main characters as they deal with this dangerous place.
2. The twins being so different. Willow is athletic, strong, talkative, and artistic. She loves to read fantasy and Sci-fi books. Jake is super smart, has a great memory, but is quiet and lacks confidence. Memorable characters that will carry the series forward.
3. If you like puns them get ready for a lot of them. They had me giggling many times.
4. The witch sends the creepiness scale to its maximum. She’s meaner than mean, likes to devour kids for a tasty meal, and always spins the tale in her favor. Middle grade readers will enjoy every aspect of the witch’s character arc.
5. This had a movie-like feel with the setting and strong characters. Here’s hoping one is eventually made.

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The gorgeous cover of this novel immediately caught my eye, which will draw readers into the enchanting world of Grimmworld. Twins Willow and Jake Grimm, both 11 years old, are forced to relocate to a new state due to their parents' new job opportunities. As soon as they enter New Marburg, strange things begin to happen.

This fast-paced middle-grade story follows their journey as they discover new friends, terrifying monsters, and various magical beings. Their school undergoes an astonishing shift into a castle, all while they fend off creatures pursuing them.

The twins are descendants of the original Brothers Grimm. Willow and Jake are transported to Grimmworld, where fairy tales come to life. The siblings clash with sinister figures and need to work as a team to keep them safe, protect their friends, and possibly save the world. Through physical and mental challenges, they develop confidence, and bravery to help them overcome past struggles in their lives.

Filled with action, strange things, and suspense, the story keeps readers on edge, and excited to uncover what unfolds next. Ending with a cliffhanger, the story leaves you craving the sequel immediately. Middle-grade audiences will enjoy the fantastic blend of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Fairy Tales wonderfully crafted by Author Michaelbrent Collings in "The Witch in the Woods."

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The Witch in the Woods by Michaelbrent Collings is both magical as it is strange in this middle-grade brand new take of Grimm's Fairy Tale. ✨️

The Grimm twins are off to an odd beginning when the whole family decided to move to a particular place that has a sci-fi feel to it (robots, hoverboards, you name it). Although, none of those actually prepared them from what's about to happen next after a lightning strikes their house.

This story follows an epic whirlwind of an adventure. I was enraptured by this book the whole time I was reading it, honestly. Can't stop thinking as to how could I even resist these quirky yet fun tale?

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This is my first book from Michaelbrent Collings, but I’ve seen his books around for years. I love love middle grade fantasy and this book has it all. The pacing is fast and furious. The plot is exciting and page turning. And I love retellings. This book was perfect for me.

Willow and Jake just moved to the town of New Marburg and right away they are noticing things are not right. Without spoilers, weird stuff is going on and going on fast. Then bang! I loved the combining of the real world and the fairytale world and the “science” behind it, very clever. Jake and Willow are amazing in their own ways and strengthen each other. The author does a great job of making them the heroes of the story. And, wow what an ending! Loved the twists and turns.
I received a paperback ARC from the publisher and a Netgalley link. Huge thanks to the publisher. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

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Michaelbrent Collings is a new author to me but The Witch in the Woods is Such a fun retelling that child, teen and adults alike can enjoy! Nicely done.

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*thank you to NetGalley for giving me access*
3.5 stars
It seems like the older I get, the more I struggle with reading middle grade; they really are a hit or miss for me. I love fairytales and I loved that aspect of the book but it wasn't giving me everything I wanted from it.
The book did end on a cliffhanger and if I ever find the sequel at the library or as an ebook I'll read it

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A fun, fantastic twist on the Grimm fairytales, particularly Hansel and Gretel! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s my first book by Michaelbrent Collings and I can’t wait to read more.

The Witch in the Woods begins with two endearing 11 year old twins faced with leaving their friends and home in California for a small, mysterious town in Idaho. As they’re packed up and ready to leave, a strange man appears in their backyard looking like something out of a sci-fi movie and appears to be threatening them. Though they try to tell their parents, they don’t seem to believe them. Along the way, even stranger things happen and when they finally get to their new home in New Marburg, Idaho they discover they’re living in a Think Tank city with robots, cars that act like hoverboards, and a strange house with walls impervious to nails.

While their scientific parents are busy working on a secret project, Willow and Jake attend an advanced school with a mean teacher who seems to be out to get them from the first. When their already fantastic world is turned upside down after a terrible lightening storm, they suddenly find themselves in a fairytale world with a creepy forest, talking naked mole rat, and a terrible witch who’s captured their new friends. Can they solve the witch’s riddles to free themselves and their friends from her clutches?

I love middle grade books that are imaginative and well written. It’s also refreshing to read a book about siblings who truly love and support each other. Willow’s musical, loves to read, is smart, and social. Jake’s quiet, smart, kind, likes facts especially about animals and excels at remember them. I found myself on pins and needles cheering these kids on as they use logic and smarts to solve the witch’s clever riddles.

There’s also a sci-fi element with the parents working on a project that’s bringing about the collision of the fairytale world with our world. I loved that this story didn’t dumb things down for kids or use annoying potty humor. It’s intelligently written with scientific theories like string theory mentioned that might have kids googling to find more information. The book ends on a cliffhanger with a couple of twists I didn’t see coming. I can’t wait to find out what happens in the next book.

I definitely think both middle grade boys and girls who like fantasy, sci-fi, or fairytale retellings will enjoy this! There are some scary elements with a witch who enjoys eating children, and some mild peril/violence which might be a bit frightening for younger readers. I received an advanced complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own and voluntarily provided. 4 1/2 stars!

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The Witch in the Woods is the first book in The Grimmworld series. It is a quirky tale that takes a family who moves to a new town for the parent's jobs and mixes the children up in a Grimm fairy tale that is tossed on its head. The children are twins, and each brings their uniqueness to the team that takes on the strange new world they have been thrown into. I love this kind of tales that take a story we know; in this case, it is the Grimm Fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, and then the author plunks it in the center of a mass plot line that involves kids who have no idea what is going on. The kids are stuck in a new school where things are beyond weird; the parents have new jobs that they won't talk about, and odd things keep happening to them. The target audience will love the twist the author puts on the Hansel and Gretel tale and may even pique their curiosity about the original tales.

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This is not a tale for the faint of heart. Jake and Willow face moving across states, a new school, bullying by a teacher, fairytales come to life and danger to their family and the world.
This tale is an ambitious undertaking in crafting a world at once familiar and fantastical.
One lesson from the tale is that kindness opens doors.
I think this book would be better for an older middle grade reader. There are some rather adult issues for Willow and Jake to grasp and I don’t think a younger reader would be the best audience due to some rather scary things in this tale.
I wasn’t sure part way in whether I would recommend this book or not, but by the time I finished I felt strongly that this first book in a series has lessons to teach and it’s entertaining along the way.
Thanks to Netgalley and Shadow Mountain for the opportunity to read this book.

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