Book Review: Darkwood by Gabby Hutchinson Crouch

by @edent |

An armoured Kniwght looks out over a forest. A friendly spider sits on their shoulder.

Magic is forbidden in Myrsina, along with various other abominations, such as girls doing maths.

This is bad news for Gretel Mudd, who doesn’t perform magic, but does know a lot of maths. When the sinister masked Huntsmen accuse Gretel of witchcraft, she is forced to flee into the neighbouring Darkwood, where witches and monsters dwell.

There, she happens upon Buttercup, a witch who can’t help turning things into gingerbread, Jack Trott, who can make plants grow at will, the White Knight with her band of dwarves and a talking spider called Trevor. These aren’t the terrifying villains she’s been warned about all her life. They’re actually quite nice. Well… most of them.

What a joyous book! It has plenty of laughs right from the start. A rather fun and gentle adventure through a forest - with clearly defined goodies and baddies. What if all the characters from fairy-tales had to work together to defend the village? Not exactly an original idea - but it has enough modern touches to make it worthwhile.

Is it mining the same tropes as Terry Pratchett and Jasper Fforde? Yes, absolutely. But it does it with such style and panache that it's hard to object.

An uncomplicated and unabashedly happy tale of spider spies, cake, and witchery. It had me giggling all the way through - although it swaps comedy for polemic towards the end. But by then it has earned it.

The first book in the series is currently free:

The next two books are available as a £2.99 bundle.

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