Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville (Review)


I received this free from the publisher via NetGalley

“‘I don’t want to be beautiful. Now I’m just a machine.’ Nobody can hurt a machine”


Now I am going to have to try and summarise the book. Ok, so it’s Vienna, 1899. There is a psychoanalyst by the name Josef Breuer. He has just encountered the strangest case he ever had. A girl, bruised and battered, is found. She claims she is just a machine, with no name and no feelings. She has one sole purpose – to find and kill the monster. Then there is Krysta, born years later in Germany. She is a child who is a real rascal. She really is a handful for anyone who tries to tame her. Krysta’s Papa works with the ‘animal people’ in the infirmary. Krysta has a large imagination and is often lost in the world of stories, such as Hansel and Gretel, the Pied Piper and many more. One day her life is turned upside down and she is thrust into the real world with the ‘animal people’. She then realised just how much power her imagination and her stories actually have.

As many others have said when reviewing Gretel and the Dark – it is very hard to review. This is purely due to the fact that I really don’t want to give away any of the story. One slip of the tongue (or should I say keyboard) will give away the plot twist at the end that wraps this story up and ties it with a nice little bow. There were many times I was left thinking, Who? Where? When? and more importantly, What? I believed these two stories were completely separate, but the further you are dragged into the story the more you see how much is connected. They are years apart yet there in a familiarity in them. Eliza Granville has elaborately interwoven these two stories very nicely, with subtle hints and clues dropped about here and there, yet you don’t understand the significance of these irrelevant conversations and names. I was left guessing what does it all mean? Who are these people? What is there connection? Is there actually a connection? In all honesty I was flabbergasted by the end. It was a very surprising turn of events which had not even crossed my mind. I therefore must congratulate Eliza Granville on such a well written story. I could talk about this for hours, but I have to stop myself of this point, as I am risking giving it all away.

I’ll move onto the characters now. Krysta was a favourite. She had an attitude which drove off most people. Her father went through so many women to look after her and she would cause havoc and say some foul words which you wouldn’t expect a child to know. She really had a passion for stories and fairytales and it really kept her going in her darkest times, and it kept her strong. I really enjoyed her relationship with Greet and Daniel. Greet was another favourite of mine. She is the one who told Krysta a lot of stories and it is obvious they both cared for each other, even if they gave each other an earful a lot of the time. I enjoyed Krysta’s character development throughout the novel. She eventually had to learn to grow up, and I really did enjoy watching it. I disliked Josef Breuer, yet he was an interesting and compelling character. I was a bit uncomfortable with his feelings with ‘Lilie’, and how he considered getting rid of Benjamin when he realised that she held feelings for Benjamin instead of himself. But nevertheless he was a compelling character. I would give A* to Eliza Granville for her characters, and their stories.

This review may seem like the book is all happy and light. However, it is not a nice book. It is grim and disturbing. That is not saying that it is not a great book. It is. It is a brilliant piece of historical fiction. I have a feeling that those who liked The Book Thief may enjoy this as there is a similar feel to it, yet there is more of a fairy-tale feel to it. If you enjoy historical fiction, then I definitely wouldn’t miss out on Gretel and the Dark.

MY RATING: ★★★★★


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