If you’ve read the other two books, you pretty know what to expect with this one. Some pretty
grisly awesome bloody violence, a winding fairy tale-inspired story, with a very snarky narrator. This time, it’s twins Jorinda (YOUR-inda) and Joringle (YOUR-ingle) whose story we follow.
I should say up front that if C’s language arts teacher last year hadn’t been insistent on her students learning some of the more obscure Grimm tales, I wouldn’t have believed that this one was really based on a real fairy tale. But it is, and it’s one of the more, um, gross ones. See, the twins’ stepfather doesn’t like them, and so he kills off Joringle, makes Jorinda feel like it’s her fault, and then cooks Joringle and serves him to his mother. Seriously. Ew.
But, since that one is not enough, Gidwitz smashes it up with the real Cinderella (actually, the narrator’s side notes on the meaning of Cinderella — or, rather Ashputtle — is quite hilarious), Sleeping Beauty, and several tales I don’t even know. It’s all very gruesome, all very weird.
In the middle, however, this one turned… well… odd. Gidwitz went meta on me, and Jorinda and Joringle left the story world, and actually started interacting with the narrator, who turned out to be an elementary school teacher named Adam. He read the characters A Tale Dark and Grimm and In a Glass Grimmly in order to help them solve their current crisis. Additionally, the narrator/Adam got all moralistic on us. He had Lessons that Needed to Be Taught, and was actually — surprisingly — heavy-handed with them. And, for the first time in this series, I got pulled out of the story. The intrusive narrator was no longer funny and witty, but rather truly intrusive. And it bothered me. I didn’t mind how the story resolved itself; Jorinda and Joringle were actually good Middle Grade Heroes and did what they needed to do to resolve the story happily. But, after the point where they met the narrator, I wasn’t that interested in how the story resolved itself.
Which is too bad. Because, for the most part, this is a really good series. And I do like the way Gidwitz plays with the Grimm tales. I just wish he could have gotten there without bringing the narrator fully into the story.
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)