Jera’s Jamboree review : Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville

gretel and the darkFormat: Kindle Edition

File Size: 748 KB

Print Length: 360 pages

Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0241146453

Publisher: Penguin (6 Feb 2014)


Gretel and the Dark is Eliza Granville’s dazzling novel of darkness, evil – and hope.

For fans of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief and Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth.

Vienna, 1899. Josef Breuer – celebrated psychoanalyst – is about to encounter his strangest case yet. Found by the lunatic asylum, thin, head shaved, she claims to have no name, no feelings – to be, in fact, not even human. Intrigued, Breuer determines to fathom the roots of her disturbance.

Years later, in Germany, we meet Krysta. Krysta’s Papa is busy working in the infirmary with the ‘animal people’, so little Krysta plays alone, lost in the stories of Hansel and Gretel, the Pied Piper, and more. And when everything changes and the real world around her becomes as frightening as any fairy tale, Krysta finds that her imagination holds powers beyond what she could have ever guessed . . .

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The prologue is beautiful if very surreal.  There’s an excerpt of this on the trailer:

The timelines are narrated alternatively.  Joseph is trying to work out where the girl (who calls herself a machine) has come from and very early into the narrative, he becomes quite obsessed with her; and Krysta beginning as a young child who has tantrums and demands from those who are looking after her while her father is working at the ‘zoo.’ She becomes an orphan and with no-one else to care for her, ends up in the place where her father worked.

The style and pace of the writing felt very apt for ‘fairy tales’ and the past. It felt very ‘old world’ and with those dark elements of fairy tales, is an engaging read.  However, I found myself confused and almost lost interest and gave up entirely… until I reached the part where I found out the ‘what and the why’ and this enlightenment changed my whole perception of the story.  I had to take some time to reflect before I carried on – everything fell into place.

Gretel and the Dark is a powerful and poignant story.  It’s as simple as that.  I don’t mean to sound mysterious but if I told you the reason, there would be no need for you to read the story! It certainly won’t have the same effect.

If you decide to read and find yourself becoming disengaged, don’t give up!  You’ll be glad you didn’t.

Buy it and spread the word

Buy it and spread the word

I would like to thank the publishers for pre-approval via Netgalley.


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