Review: A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Dan Santat

Hansel and Gretel came together like two magnets meeting, like meteors that have been screaming through space toward this one moment of collision. They met in the middle with a bang, and instantly their feet went out from under them on the slick roadway. They landed, hard, in a puddle of icy mud. They stared at each other, sitting in the puddle.
Lost and then found.
Dead and then alive.

From A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Review by Maeve Sheridan and Justice Sahaydak


Despite what the storybooks told you, Hansel and Gretel were actually a prince and princess. Also, their encounter with the candy cottage and the witch wasn’t their first near-death experience, and it certainly wasn’t their last. The tales you read as a child may have left out some important details (some gory, bloody details), but A Tale Dark and Grimm is here to tell you the real story–lobbed off heads and stolen souls included!

While the violent details behind these nine interconnected fairy tales are promised (and delivered) by the enthusiastic narrator, this book goes beyond its funny, compelling narrative and looks at a few themes in great depth. The most pervasive theme that runs through the book is forgiveness. Hansel and Gretel struggle with their own lack of perfection, something that few books acknowledge children do. They also have to face the many adults who let them down throughout the novel.

But gentle readers need not despair, “you see, to find the brightest wisdom one must pass through the darkest zones. And through the darkest zones there can be no guide. No guide, that is, but courage.”

The tale may be dark and grimm, but it proves to readers that forgiveness is possible through hard work and time, that children should be believed, and that you should never trust an old lady who tries to fatten you up with delectable treats.

A Tale Dark and Grimm
By Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Dan Santat
Penguin Random House, 2011
288 pages


Maeve is a senior in the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies program with a passion for Norwegian crime novels.
Justice is a freshman in the English program who likes reading and writing in her free time when she’s not reading and writing for school.

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