What is it about?
Hansjörg and Margarete are lost in the woods. Eventually they get picked up by the police, but everything goes downhill from there. Due to their repeated drug abuse their parents send them to a reformatory in the middle of nowhere. There they meet a real witch, monsters and poisonous plants.
But at least they are together and this way it’ll be easier for them to escape; or so they think…
Hänsel & Gretel are facing their drug problems in this adaptation by the Märchenspinnerei.
The reading experience
For this one I as well wrote down some thoughts in the Reading Group on Facebook (Magical Book Reading) and also kept track of them on Goodreads, so most things might sound familiar.
The story is told in different chapters that start with low page beginnings and in a mixture of outside-look and Hansi’s/Gretel’s-perspective. Towards the end there is a great perspective change to a different character, that I truly enjoyed as it felt much more mature and coherent than anything the youths‘ brains could come up with…
Even if it starts off and ends with the typical Fairy Tale quotes the narration itself feels like a report of what happened. At first the chapter beginnings irritated me a bit, but I’ve gotten used to it. The perspective change was strange too, but what bugged me most, was the combination of teeny-slang-speech with high, sometimes even seemingly contrived language.
Knowing the original Fairy Tale Hansi’s paranoia took me in and I just wanted to continue reading to see, if my brain send me the correct images for the hog roast and what that implied, but at some point it turned into frustration on my part, because of the youths‘ behaviour and I was curious whether Hansi’s and Gretel’s behaviour would change in the end. At the same time I was also kind of waiting for a big twist. Was it all really happening or just a figment of their drug-abused brains? Never saw THAT ending coming though…
I was impressed by the way the drug-therapy was incorporated into the story and turned into something I would indeed expect from a witch and I’m sure it would be something a lot of therapists could benefit from, if it were real. There was also a very funny comparison of a crystal ball and a webcam. This and the end-twist to the original were some of my favourite things.
It’s not strange for me to have troubles liking main characters, but when they are stupid teenagers like Hansi and Gretel, they make it so much easier for me not to. It’s not a reason for me to put the book aside if the story is worth it, and that it absolutely was. On the one hand can you see how damaged Hansi and Gretel are, on the other hand do they seem as superficial as the side characters. In a few scenes a bit more about them is explored and you also see how horribly co-dependent the two of them are, but that’s about it. They are far away from being „perfect“ main characters, unfortunately did that not change their annoying-ness.
The characters I liked most, though, were Frau Hag (Mrs. Hag) – the witch and director of the reformatory and her assistant Bodo, even if the latter didn’t get that much screen time. 🙁 Unfortunately I can’t tell you why again without spoilers, but that’s just more reason for you to read it and form your own opinion. 😉
What I liked though were the names as someone really had fun with naming troublesome children: Hansjörg, Kevin, Serena…they already paint a fitting picture. 😀
But the other names were chosen just as well:
Frau Hag, the witch; Waldmann (Forestman) for the Woodchopper-family; Krude (crude) the slimy social worker and the fairies Tinky (Tinkerbell) and Ali (Galadriel), even the Bodo, that I associate with a wiener dog. 😀
An alternate version I enjoyed to venture into. An interesting take on the original stuff, with many great ideas (Bodo, the detox, the roles of witch and children), that portrays many important topics (e.g. drug abuse, co-dependence of siblings). Unfortunately did I not like the linguistic realization in some passages and the characters stayed pretty superficial…
It still was fun to follow the events and be carried by the paranoia. 🙂
And there were too few moments with Bodo. 😉
Stuff I’d like to add
As a reminder: As part of the challenge you can collect points by reviewing Fairy Tales yourself. 😉
Next Tuesday you’ll get an interview with Susanne about the book and some other Fairy Tale related stuff. So stay tuned!
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