Gretel by Christopher Coleman, 350 pages, October 31st, 2015, Genre: Teen and Young Adult/Horror/Thriller and Suspense. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.
Review by Leigh Holland.
As a little girl, my father told me bedtime stories. Among them was “Hansel and Gretel”. I always had questions, such as “Daddy, why did the witch want to feed the little boy sweets? How does she survive in a Gingerbread House in the Summer? Why did she want to eat the children? Why did the father let his mean old wife send his kids away? Did the kids get punished for killing her? How does a grown up fit into an oven anyway?” To which my father answered, “Time for sleep.” It was difficult to sleep after that one. Not because I was afraid of evil witches overfeeding me and eating me- that didn’t sound so bad. It was because I was worried if times were hard enough, my own father might one day get rid of me, too. Why else tell me such a tale?
I expected the modern day retelling would be horrifying and I wasn’t disappointed. Coleman must’ve asked some of the same questions I did, because in this rendition, there are finally some answers.
Aneka Morgan breaks down by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Desperate to avoid being caught in the life-threatening, cold elements after sunset, Aneka tries to find her way home through the woods. What she encounters there is harsher than any winter’s night. Imprisoned by an immortal, desperate, murderous hag, Aneka bides her time, hoping for a chance at escape, sensing that she’s only being well cared for and fed for some foul purpose. Meanwhile, back at home, her daughter Gretel is forced to mature more quickly in order to provide for her family in her mother’s absence. Gretel has given up on finding her mother, believing the worst has befallen her. Gretel develops from a dependant little girl into a strong, confident, capable young lady. Aneka’s young son Hansel relies ever more on his elder sister. Hansel and Gretel are both suspicious of their father’s nurse, who positions herself to become their step-mother. Why does the hag want to kill Aneka? Will she succeed? Will Gretel ever be reunited with her mother again? Who can Gretel trust- within her family and without?
The themes of this work are the same as in the classic tale: the meaning of the blood ties that bind family members to each other and deep betrayal. The plot forces the reader to confront dark moral questions. If you were dying, in pain, in distress, what would you sacrifice in order to turn back the clock? What would you give for a second chance? Could you resist temptation if the price was horrifyingly steep? For how long?
This is an engrossing read with an imaginative spin on the classic. I’d recommend this to fans of modernized fairy tales and dark fantasy. You can find it at Gretel.
Alone. Frightened. Captive. If you hear someone approaching, RUN. She is not there to help you.
There is an ancient evil in the Back Country, dormant for centuries but now hungry and lurking. When it sets its sights on an unsuspecting mother one routine morning along an isolated stretch of highway, a quiet farming family is suddenly thrust into a world of unspeakable terror, and a young girl must learn to be a hero.
Looking for the perfect Halloween read? Gretel is a gripping, spine-chilling, thrilling horror with twists and turns you won’t see coming.
Praise for GRETEL:
“Great Halloween season read! Love the retelling of a classic story.”
“I couldn’t help but think I was reading something from Stephen King (one of my favorite authors).
“One of the best books I’ve read! I couldn’t stop reading it till the END!!!”
“Wow! What a great twist to an old story!”
“Wow. Fabulous twist on a Grimm classic. Such well developed characters. And THREE heroines.”
“If you’ve read the story of ‘Hansel and Gretel,’ and you think you know all there is to know about a girl and her brother abandoned in the forest by their father at the behest of an evil stepmother, think again. You simply have to read Gretel: Book One by Christopher Coleman.”
“Man oh man! A true horror story….not your old time Hansel and Gretel. No gingerbread house, no barred cages to be locked behind while the witch fattens you up. Nosiree bob. If you truly want to be scared out of your wits about what some people will do to others, read this book!”
“That fairy tale your parents used to read to you has changed and grown teeth, although author Christopher Coleman may have captured the feeling the Brothers Grimm originally intended us to feel.
“This book was really creepy. Very well written. Kept me on the edge of my seat. I would love to see this made into a movie.”
Gretel is a horror story that will keep you on the edge of your seat, afraid to turn off the lights and go to sleep. If you are looking for a suspenseful, creepy and spooky read that will leave you scared out of your wits, then Gretel is for you. You have been warned.
The complete Gretel Series includes:
Gretel (Gretel Book One)
Marlene’s Revenge (Gretel Book Two)
Hansel (Gretel Book Three)
About the Author:
Christopher Coleman lives in Maryland with his wife and two children. He received his degree in English Literature from the University of Maryland and has been writing professionally for over five years.