Gretel and the Dark | Historical Fiction Fairytale Retelling Book Review

Gretel and the Dark
Eliza Granville
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Age Group: Adult
Publication Date: 6th February 2014
Number of Pages: 368
Source: Netgalley

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Gretel and the Dark Goodreads Page

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

Eliza Granville was born in Worcestershire and currently lives in Bath. She has had a life-long fascination with the enduring quality of fairytales and their symbolism, and the idea for Gretel and the Dark was sparked when she became interested in the emphasis placed on these stories during the Third Reich. Gretel and the Dark is her first novel to be published by a major publisher.

Gretel and the Dark tackles the dark and horrific subject of Jewish discrimination across Europe through a Young Adult perspective and using fairy-tale references. Although this book has a Young Adult narrative, I would categorise it as an Adult story due to the writing style and content.

Eliza Granville’s use of dark and descriptive vocabulary was addictive and spellbinding to read however I constantly found myself falling in and out of appreciation for this story. At times I was hooked to the story development for both main female characters, Krysta and Lilie, but then at other times I felt the story was stagnant for a series of chapters.

This story came into its own though at around 70% when the two narratives and time periods started to parallel in content and the plot twist that links to two together is revealed. It is this plot twist which has made this review so hard to write as my reservations and dislikes within the first 70% of the book are reasoned and almost void with the understanding gained from the last 30%.

I was certainly glad I continued reading this book, after almost putting it down 2-3 times. If you’re not used to adult descriptive writing and vague characters descriptions then you might find this book isn’t right for you. However, for those looking for an adult version of The Book Thief with a darker tone, then Gretel and the Dark might be the book for you!

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