A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

A Tale Dark and Grimm is a book right in my wheelhouse, as they say.  After reading a review in the NYTBR, I quickly added this to the TBR pile.  Young adult fantasy fiction, fairy tales and folklore, quirky sense of humor, etc. What’s not to like, right? I soon grabbed it for my Kindle and started reading.

It turned out to be a sort of Lemony Snicket take on the Brothers Grimm. Gidwitz reworks a variety of Grimm Fairy Tales with Hansel and Gretal as the lead characters while adding his own sarcastic and ironic commentary along the way.

As is so often the case, I was a bit torn about the end result.
On the one hand, the reworking of these tales brings back the dark macabre nature of these fairy tales and the wry commentary is often entertaining. On the other hand, the commentary seems a bit over-the-top – the literary equivalent of stretching a joke until it breaks.

Over all this is a quirky and lively take on something I am fascinated with (fairy tales, the Brothers Grimm, etc.) but either my age (the target audience is YA), my familiarity with the subject, or my high expectations (built by the review mentioned above) led to a bit of a let down.

It could be that the post-modern or meta-fictional aspect of it didn’t appeal to me. There is a sense where the narrator is creating his own story from the bits and pieces of the past and he expects the reader to play along as he winks and makes inside jokes knowing you can see behind the curtain.

Fans of creative young adult fiction and those interested in modern takes on classic fairy tales will enjoy this unique book. But as always, you mileage may vary.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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