You mustn’t go into the Darkwood, children. Not even to get your ball. Leave it. That ball belongs to the Witches and the Beasties, now. Those wicked Witches. Stealing your ball. Magic is forbidden in Myrsina, along with various other abominations, such as girls doing maths. This is bad news for Gretel Mudd, who doesn’t perform magic, but does know a lot of maths.
When her clever inventions prompt the sinister masked Huntsmen, who run the country to accuse her of Witchcraft, she is forced to flee into the neighbouring Darkwood, where all the Witches and Monsters dwell. There, she happens upon Buttercup, a Witch who can’t help turning things into gingerbread, Jack Trott, who can make plants grow at will, the White Knight with her band of Dwarves and a talking spider called Trevor.
These aren’t the terrifying villains she’s been warned about all her life. They’re actually quite nice. Well… most of them. With the Huntsmen on the warpath, Gretel must act fast to help the Witches save both the Darkwood and her home village, while unravelling the rhetoric and lies that have demonised magical beings for far too long.
I read this book for my History of Magic O.W.L, if your not sure what I am on about you can find my readathon post here.
This book wasn’t what I imagined at all. It’s a middle grade which I didn’t expect (my own fault, should have checked), don’t get me wrong I love reading middle grade, it just took me a while to adjust my expectations.
Once I got into this tale I was thoroughly absorbed. The quirky nature of this story is right up my alley. A bunch of fairy tale creatures have been driven from their homes and into Darkwood, home of the ‘beasties’.
I can’t begin to explain how much I enjoyed the characters we come across in this story. You’ll recognize lots but they won’t be as you traditionally know them. This is almost the perfect transition book for the younger end of Middle Grade, as they will know the names and characters but are presented with a more complicated tale.
The settings in this book are so well described. I could really visualize the village and the people that live there. Darkwood is given the appropriate creepy feel, imagine all your nightmares about forests rolled into one. I loved the contrast between the two but actually at the heart of both they are very similar.
Overall, this is a great story, some humorous moments but also some tender, heart wrenching ones. Throw in some bloody moments for good measure and you have a story which I know a lot of children will absolutely love.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this book. What I found was a heartwarming tale of communities coming together under the most extraordinary circumstances. I whole heartily recommend this read.
My thanks to the publishers for a copy of the book to review via netgalley.