February 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Gretel All Grown Up

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At the opposite end of fairy-tale retellings from the gritty 2013 Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, comes this delightful cozy mystery, the first in a prospective series starring the same Gretel, grown-up and solving crimes.

Regular readers know my affection for fairy tales and fairy tale retellings, and while I haven’t read this one yet, I’m very excited by the review below. I’m particularly charmed by the name of the town Gretel lives in–Gesternstadt, which means something like Yesterday-ville, if my German doesn’t deceive me–and by the priceless puns like the frog “prints”.

Lovers of fairy tales and cozy mysteries (or both, like me), rejoice for this new series.

BRACKSTON, P.J. Gretel and the Case of the Missing Frog Prints: A Brothers Grimm Mystery. 235p. Pegasus Crime. Jan. 2015. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781605986722.

The best-selling author of The Witch’s Daughter (St. Martin’s, 2012) begins a cozy and quirky mystery series with a tale centered around Gretel (yes, that Gretel) in Bavaria. The title character, who admires fancy wigs and even fancier bakery goods, is a detective, although lately business has been slow in Gesternstadt. When she is summoned to Nuremberg to find Albrecht Durer the Much Much Younger’s missing artwork, she takes the case. Why wouldn’t she, especially after the messenger who informed her of the opportunity drops dead in her house? Gretel’s detective methods are hilarious—she pretends to be a dominatrix in a brothel to investigate a possible suspect and she is prone to spontaneous napping.  She’s constantly finding herself in embarrassing situations when encountering the handsome General Ferdinand von Ferdinand, and she spends too much time dodging the irritating Strudel who keeps trying to arrest her for the death of the messenger. Teens who love Gail Carriger’s Alex Award-winning Soulless (Orbit, 2009) will enjoy entering this quirky fairy tale world where things feel familiar, yet different. The talking mouse studies philosophy, and the frog prints (instead of the frog prince) are missing.  Puns and wordplay are everywhere—the townsfolk yell, “The wurst is coming!” when the world record sausage is being delivered through the town. The adjective-rich descriptions are reminiscent of Alena Graedon’s The Word Exchange (Doubleday, 2014).  Fans will highly anticipate the upcoming sequels. VERDICT An entertaining, light mystery for fairy tale fans.—Sarah Hill, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL

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Mark Flowers About Mark Flowers

Mark Flowers is SLJ’s Adult Books 4 Teens cocolumnist and a supervising librarian at the Rio Vista (CA) Library.

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