Friday, February 04, 2011

The Witch's Guide to Cooking With Children (MG)

The Witch's Guide to Cooking With Children. Keith McGowan. 2009. Henry Holt. 192 pages.

I love children. Eating them, that is. I've eaten quite a few children over the centuries. You may wonder where I get them all. The answer is: I get them the traditional way. From parents, of course. 

The book begins with a little excerpt from Fay Haladerry's "How to Cook and Eat Children." This mystery novel stars two children--an eleven-year old boy, Solomon, an eight-year-old girl, Connie. These two first get suspicious of their new community when they see a local dog chewing (or perhaps burying?) a human bone. Of course, they don't know right then and there that it is human. But a trip to the library soon has these kids convinced that there is something strange about one of their neighbors, a woman named Fay Haladerry. Readers, of course, know more than our hero and heroine for most of the novel. For they realize early on that a) this woman is a witch--the witch--from Hansel and Gretel and b) that Sol and Connie's parents have it in for them. They see the first few failed attempts. They have a better idea of who to trust and who not to trust.

This book has an interesting premise, a playful premise. Throughout the book, readers get a glimpse into this witch's book. And these scenes may prove the highlight for readers interested in this twisted fairy tale. But, for me, the novel lacks substance when it comes to characterization. The story in many ways seems one-dimensional. Sol and Connie don't deserve to be cooked and eaten--not by any stretch of the imagination--but they do lack the depth needed for this reader (this adult reader) to really care about them as individuals. The book lacks complexity in a way. Beyond the premise, beyond the playful twist to a traditional fairy tale, it isn't as great as the book cover might suggest.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


SunTiger said...

Oh my. This sounds like such a fun title! Twisted faerie tales can be very fun so I'm sorry the novel lacked substance. Bleh. (Hate it when my reading expectations are not met.)

Debi said...

Darn...I'm so sorry to hear that this lacked the complexity that might have taken it to the next level. Still, it sounds really cute, and I think I may just see if the library has it. Thanks Becky!

Becky said...

Debi, it was cute. And there were places I really enjoyed it! There was some delightful writing now and then. So it wasn't a bad read. It's just that if you go into it expecting it to be oh-so-incredibly-awesome, then you'd be disappointed. Whereas if you go into it thinking oh this is a light, fun read, I think it won't disappoint! (If that makes sense?!) So if your library has it, I'd still recommend it "for fun."