Simply put: yes.
I didn't know I need the story after the happy ending part of the fairy tale, but this book proves that maybe we need more of this to be available. Hansel having a gambling problem? so realistic.
Loved the beginning, loved the cozy and dark vibes, but didn’t connect as much as the story went on! I think it felt a little drawn out, maybe because it was a retelling? Writing was beautiful
Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
I love fairy tales. So, one would think that this book would be perfect for me.
One would be wrong.
This was a bit of a slog to get through and at points I truly couldn’t believe how little progress I had made. The main issue that led to this was the fact that Greta didn’t really have a strong goal. She wants to get her brother out of debt by baking gingerbread, except Hans is such a jerk that I couldn’t care less about his fate. Maybe if they had had a genuinely lovely relationship with flaws, I would follow her in getting him out of scrapes. She also seems lukewarm about her magic abilities, and at the end all she does is ask the forest to help her.
There are some cute fairy tale references that I liked, and the overall story wasn’t horrible, it just wasn’t something I could get invested in. The writing was fine, but I did notice the author would have a line break for dramatic effect, only to start the next scene the very next second.
This was a fun and fantasy ya story, I would definitely recommended to anyone who enjoys young adult stories!!
Will be featured in December Reads pt 2
Blog Post scheduled for January 16th
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Amazon Review submitted, pending system approval
I genuinely was expecting something very different than what I got with this and I’m quite disappointed. For some reason I thought this was more modern, however this leans very hard into the fairy tale ‘retellings/what if’ stories we’ve been getting a lot of the past few years. Hans and Greta are now adults and this follows their lives as more supernatural beings begin to enter it and how they deal with life after ‘the witch’.
My biggest complaint on this is that Greta was just so bland. I’m not sure if this was due to the writing, which in general felt very disconnected and cold, or the character herself. Even after the traumatic events of her childhood, the frequent supernatural events that followed, and the magical book that talks to her in her own home daily she still manages to find shapeshifters and werewolves surprising and frightening. I believe I would have started having problems well before the book started whispering in my mind, but to each their own.
Sadly I spent the entirety of the book disconnected, cold to the characters and only growing more frustrated. Greta felt a lot like many female characters I read in these types of stories, reactionary and mild in manner. If you met these women on a Tuesday in the supermarket you’d never know. Which, if this was literary fiction then yeah I can see that making sense. But in a fantasy novel? A retelling of a fairy tale? It makes for a dull and frustrating time for the reader.
2.5 bewitching gingerbread houses
“Love is a gift… There is no weakness in relying on someone, when they are the right someone. Indeed, there is only strength.”
I love a good retelling, and this one was a lot of fun to read! Instead of retelling the story of Hansel and Gretel, it reimagines it and our story long after the children returned home. I really enjoyed the social commentary that played out in the book, especially when it came to female agency.
I did think the pacing felt a bit inconsistent, and this took me out of the story more than once. I also felt that it was a too predictable and didn’t go quite as deep as I’d hoped it would.
Overall I thought it was a really fun debut and I’d look for the author’s future works down the road! Thanks to Netgalley and Tor/Forge for the advanced copy!
This book was a fantastic take on the story of Hansel (Hans) and Gretel (Greta). If you loved The Bear and the Nightingale and Juliet Marillier books, you will like this book too. I loved the use of magic (both magic with rules and soft magic systems). Some of the plot was obvious while others were less so. I loved the romantic subplot. I did not care for Hans (not even sorry 😅), but he was definitely written well! The author did a great job of making me not like him.
Greta was great. She was teetering on the edge of good and evil and finding her place in the world. I loved the take on her and Hans' stories as adults years after The Story from The Brothers Gimm. I loved the main love interest. I would have liked more time with him as a person vs. insta love interest.
This book covers the after effects of war, of trauma, of witch hunts, of curses, and of witches (both good and not so good).
Content: language, violence, abandonment of children, magic, death, poison, gruesome animal violence and cruelty (Chapter 25), one scene of spice, death of parents
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced reader copy of this book. This review is voluntarily written and the thoughts and opinions contained in this review are my own.
This Hansel and Gretel retelling of their lofe a few years after is a great idea but not from me, I'm usually looking for magic, adventures in my books, But this is great for people looking for a fantasy setting thats talking about trauma, going on with our lifes and relationships with others
It's been fifteen years since Greta and Hans were kidnapped by that dreadful witch. Fifteen years of struggling. Of living with the fact that their father abandoned them at the hands of someone who would do them harm.
Greta has worked hard to make a life for herself and her brother despite the reputation they have in this small village. They get by largely thanks to her baking. But the growing gossip is making life more dangerous by the day, and that's before a new enemy enters the fray.
Oh wow. After the Forest may be my favorite retelling of Hansel and Gretel. Not only does it let Gretel (Greta) take ownership of her story, but it dives deep into magic, love, and the dangers resting within the hearts of humans.
In other words, it's pretty perfect. I love how After the Forest taught us about different magics – some harmful, some kind. It added some much-needed complexity to this fairy tale. In truth, that is one of many additions Kell Woods made, and I ended up loving them all.
The other significant element Kell Woods added to this story is romance. While many of the twists here were a bit on the predictable side, they were no less enjoyable. In fact, I would argue that they helped to carry the overall plot forward.
After the Forest is worth the read, especially if you love retellings or strong hedge witch vibes, as this is the perfect blend of the two.
Retelling (Hansel and Gretel)
Pregnancy loss (mentioned)
While I wanted to love After the Forest - I love the idea of a Hansel and Gretel retelling - I got lost. Much like the main characters, while I liked the distinct fairy tale feeling, the fact that the 'horrors' aren't over yet, but After the Forest lost me. I wanted to love Gretel because the rage at cleaning up the messes of men is distinctly my brand. It begins by asking us if sometimes we need to leave. After the Forest also includes a sibling relationship full of push and pull, but the politics lost me completely.
After the Forest by Kell Woods takes place fifteen years after Hansel and Gretel defeat the witch from the famed fairytale. Now, Hans and Greta are struggling to get by. Hans is plunging them into debt with his gambling habit and Greta secretly takes to using an old book she stole from the witch to make and sell addictive gingerbread. When dark magic returns to the woods, Greta's own spell sand powers could make her the first person that the townspeople suspect – but it could also be what saves her.
I loved this premise and found it to be a pretty quick read. But there's nothing standout about the lore or the magic system here and the themes don't take this to be as dark as I personally wanted it to be. It's pretty soft and I wish it spent more time developing a few characters rather than introducing so many new ones throughout the book – both Hans and the character of Greta's love interest still felt pretty half-baked by the end of the story. I loved the idea, I just wanted a little more!
This could also have been improved by the use of a map. While I understand the locations in this book are based in reality, it was hard for me to understand the distance between all the locations the characters were traveling to and from and what they were talking about.
I did really enjoy the writing style. I liked this and would read more writing by Kell Woods.
I genuinely enjoyed this story. I feel like Hansel & Gretel is an often overlooked story for retelling. But it’s always been one of my favorites. This story follow Greta (primarily and Hansel as a secondary character) after burning the witch. This story is lush, atmospheric and beautiful. I genuinely enjoyed this feminist spin on what happens after the end. Powerful witches. Curses. Dirty men who get what they deserve. Baked goods. It deals with guilt, misconceptions, and ever afters so deftly. This is truly a masterpiece in setting and atmosphere.
After the Forest
Kell Woods debut, After the Forest, is brilliant, a dark and gripping mix of an adult Fairy Tale, hard fantasy and a bit of a love story that takes readers back to the Black Forest to reconnect with Hans and Greta long after their escape from the witch, the gingerbread house and rescue by the huntsman and follows them into their troubled adulthood.
With their mother long dead and their father dying soon after their safe return home Hans and Greta grow up relying only on each other and a few kindly neighbors. Nevertheless, Hans develops a gambling addiction and Greta keeps them out of the poorhouse with her enchanted gingerbread baked from the recipe in the witch’s cookbook that Greta took after the witch’s demise. But when bloody, butchered bodies are discovered in the forest and wolves and bears are seen roaming the woods the superstitious townspeople looking for a scapegoat only have to look as far as Greta and her gingerbread. But it’s not Greta the town has to worry about but the pure evil that shows up on their doorstep.
There is so much to love about this novel, the author’s superb and scary storytelling, the lyric-like narrative, a refreshing, engaging fairy tale retelling and a cast of fantastical characters giving readers a story that will live on in their minds long after The End. The star of the show is definitely Greta, she’s a real stand-out, strong, honorable, fallible and kind who is willing to sacrifice all to protect those she loves. Readers will encounter other stand-out characters too both good and evil both human and not. Fans of fairy tale retellings, hard fantasy and novels by Paula Brackston and Rachel Caine will have a hard time putting this down and will be anxiously wondering what this amazing debut author will offer up next.
What would Hansel and Greta's life be after surviving the witch in the woods? Well, they'd be recovering from trauma and trying to fit in a small medieval town that questions what really happened to the "old lady" living by herself in the woods. A dark fantasy tale that weaves in intergenerational trauma, magic baking, romance, and shape shifters.
This review was made possible via and ARC through NetGalley.
After the Forest is a retelling of several Germanic fairy tales, including Hansel and Gretel and Snow White and Rose Red. As someone who grew up with these fairy tales, I very much appreciated Kell Woods' spin on them and how they were combined.
The romance was cute. I liked Mathias and Greta's interactions and the use of the gingerbread was a nice touch (I'm a sucker for quality gingerbread, both cookie and bread). Lots of vivid imagery with the senses, particularly smell and taste which fits in with the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel.
My one potential concern is the dwarf character as he is a villain and his character is quite unpleasant when we are now having conversations around the historical depiction of Little People as dwarves in fairy tales and on screen. Perhaps if there has been another dwarf character who was kind and present, it wouldn't have stuck out as much.
I would recommend this to fans of fairy tales looking for a bit of crossover and hint of horror.
Ginger. Honey. Cinnamon. Flour.
A different take on a Hansel (Hans) and Gretel (Greta) “retelling”. Not exactly a retelling though, it’s been years since Greta and Hans have escaped the witch and they’re adults now. It shows what their lives may have become after their experience. Hans has a gambling problem. Greta bakes gingerbread to keep the family afloat. But the gingerbread recipe? It comes from the witch’s grimoire that Greta stole.
I enjoyed Greta as a main character and thought the magic in this book was very fairytale-esque. I tend to prefer my stories a bit faster pace, but I think those who like historical fiction would like this story quite a bit.
This a story with magic, love, and history. There are darker themes and I would check TW.
Thank you to @netgalley and @torbooks for the arc.
Although I really wanted to, I didn’t quite fall in love with this book. It took too long to get going- I was halfway through the book before it finally pulled me in. It was also heavy on the love at first sight romance- just not my thing and completely implausible. But my love of fairy tales made me stick with it.
What I did like about this book is that it captures the dark and forbidding atmosphere of the original fairytales. It has a wonderful sinister feeling. This book is a horror fantasy hybrid and I really loved when it crossed the line into full on horror territory. I honestly wish it would have stayed there and lost the romance. Still, Woods is a good writer and I am intrigued enough to read whatever she writes next. Thank you to @netgalley and @torbooks books for this arc.
Love this unique and atmospheric retelling of Hansel and Gretel! It has the full vibes of the original, but the story has now become multi-layered and complex and quite compelling. It forces you to think and really care about the characters and what happens after "happily ever after" realizing that ever after may not always mean happy. Quite enjoyed this one!
A great addition to the growing fairytale retelling genre. I'm had mixed feelings about this subject getting a reboot as I generally love this genre but wasn't especially connected to this fairy tale in particular. Woods made this story interesting from the start with a protagonist you are excited to root for.
If you’re looking for an atmospheric and magical world that is perfect for Fall i would definitely recommend this book! I enjoyed certain parts of this book but overall it did fall a little flat for me. My biggest issues were the pacing. I found the beginning slow and full of information. The only reason why I kept going was the magic and world building were interesting to me. I did enjoy the last half of the book a lot more. The characters were ok but they weren’t the most interesting I’ve read. I think I would have enjoyed Greta’s character more if she was more of a badass than naive. Overall it was enjoyable but unfortunately not a new favorite.