Do you think you know Hansel and Gretel? They’re just the kids who drop the bread crumbs and then go to that candy house and eat a lot of food and get fat and almost get eaten by that witch, right? WRONG! Adam Gidwitz has just taken the Hansel and Gretel we know and bathed it in blood-soaked darkness that would make Goosebumps and Scary Stories To Tell In the Dark seem like nursery rhymes. This is definitely not your average fairy tale, and you can tell from the amounts of times Gidwitz jumps into the story to warn you about the most violent pieces of the puzzle, recommending to keep all small children at bay. This story doesn’t just include the candy house witch–it seamlessly intertwines that tale with seven others to create different chapters of the duo’s perilous life:
Faithful Johannes: This beginning chapter serves as a prequel to the rest of the story, revolving around a young prince that is promoted to king after his dad bites the dust, and Faithful Johannes–the late king’s most loyal servant–is tasked to show the new king his entire inheritance save for one room. Johannes was told that if he showed the king this room, it may cost the king his life. Oh, and ravens show up. If you believe in the omen you know something sinister will occur–but these ravens can talk.
Hansel and Gretel: This is where the story of the brother and the sister begins. In context (or if you read chapter one), this would make more sense. After feeling betrayed by their own mom and dad (aka the young king) after a big debacle, they run away into the forest where they come across a candy house. Starving, they proceed to help themselves to the treat, but are caught by the house’s owner, who warmly welcomes them in. She feeds them food to the point where they become fat and lazy, and although this looks like a dream come true, she has plans to make it a nightmare.
The Seven Swallows: You may better recognize this part of the story as The Seven Ravens, a fairy tale of its own. After Hansel and Gretel flee for the second time, they come across a husband and wife with seven sons and a longing wish for a daughter. The father sends his kids off to fetch water, but when his sons do not return, their father curses them so they transform into ravens and fly off. Hansel and Gretel embark on a journey to find the seven sons in a world where the moon craves human flesh, and the results of their adventure will shock you!
Brother and Sister: Picking up where 7 Swallows left off, this chapter follows Hansel and Gretel as they make shelter in Lebenwald (LAY-ben-vault), the wood of life. As Gretel befriends a talking tree whom is practically Lebenwald’s landlord, Hansel realizes he has an animal bloodlust, and he keeps on bringing an offering to the fire no matter how much Gretel tries to stop him. But when Hansel’s murderous mania gets the best of him, his altered beast is revealed.
A Smile Red As Blood: Gretel decides to hit the road alone, shaken and saddened by the events of the last chapter. She stumbles across Schwarzwald (SHVATS-vault), the wood of darkness, but visits the village right by it. When she is rejected by most of the village people (joke not intended), she sits down and mopes. Luckily, an old woman accepts her. Weeks later, Gretel becomes smitten with a dashing young man with red lips. Even if he’s a bit aggressive. One night, Gretel manages to flee from her home and follows the young man’s path into Schwarzwald. The following events are nothing less than grisly, and you’ll probably never look at doves the same way again.
The 3 Golden Hairs: This is probably the most horrifying, dreadful, and macabre chapter in the entire book. You have been warned. When a pair of huntsmen bring an ugly beast home from a hunt, the monster is skinned to reveal something other than flesh, blood, and bone (no Potter reference intended)–a boy. Not just any boy–Hansel! He decides to stay under the watch of the Lord and the Lady, but it turns out that the Lord is an addicted gambler. When he loses to an elusive stranger, he discovers he’s made a deal with the Devil and, to counter it, Hansel must travel to the place Down Under. No, it’s not Australia…
Hansel and Gretel and the Broken Kingdom: In all honesty, all they do is return to their home kingdom to their parents, tell them about their perilous journey, and discover that their home is in ruins due to a great beast. It’s reptilian, it’s fire-breathing, and it rhymes with “flaggin”.
Hansel and Gretel and the Dragon: Almost there. All that happens is Hansel and Gretel manage to start an army to face the dragon and then take it on, but it turns out they were a little unprepared and the results are actually more gruesome than you’d probably like. This is the one chapter all squeamish readers should skip.
Hansel and Gretel and Their Parents: This is it. The very last chapter. After their brawl with the dragon, despite the results not being too successful, Hans and G are still hailed by the kingdom as true heroes. We also see the true identity of the dragon, and then Hans and G become king and queen. Just thought you’d want to know.
Yes, A Tale Dark and Grimm may be very dark, gory, and quite disturbing, but when you peel that layer of the story away it’s an exciting, enthralling, and surprisingly touching fantasy adventure that tells important truths wrapped inside the premises. The messages the story offers are mainly the virtues of forgiveness, love, and trust and how they’re worth all the work. Gidwitz’ dark but droll storytelling skills make Hans and G characters we can empathize for, and we can ultimately comprehend why they came home even after abandonment from their parents.
FINAL SCORE: ★★★★★
RECOMMENDATION: For anyone who loves fractured fairy tales or modern spins on old classics, but is willing to read through a couple of grisly moments.
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VIDEO OF THE WEEK: “Harlem Shake” by VideoGameDunkey. Trust me, it’s not what it looks like, but it’s totally worth it.
Hey guys it’s Sam. I guess now that technology is at its prime, WordPress has been able to incorporate Vines into blog posts via their embed codes. And coincidentally I’ve seen a lot of hilarious Vines in the past few weeks. So, without further ado, I present the first volume of my funniest Vine compilation.
Now, wasn’t that a blast? Did it make you laugh? Of course it did, so be sure to check out the original creators of the Vines for even more hilarious stuff! I’ll be sure to put up volume two sometime in the future, but for know tune in every Friday at 1:00 PM for more awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak! Oh, and have a rad summer!
Stay classy America,
When I was a wee young man, I was raised on Nickelodeon. Figure It Out, GUTS, Double Dare 2000, SpongeBob, I watched it all. But around summer 2008, I ripped my eyes from Nick for the first time ever and became a fan of–you probably guessed it–Cartoon Network. Chowder and Flapjack were probably my top two most-watched series from the Network at the time, but then I saw something that hooked me like a trout. Something I’m a strong fan of to this very day. The killer app that brought me and probably millions of other people just like me to become fans of Cartoon Network. It also showed me that Canada isn’t just home of the ice hockey. It is called Total Drama. Now, for a boring recap of the past four seasons. If you want to skip down, scroll down a bit. Or press Ctrl+F and type four periods.
They were split into two teams: the Screaming Gophers and the Killer Bass. These two teams were given challenges for each episode–from dodgeball to Fear Factor–and at the end of each episode there was a final campfire gathering for the losing team. Every camper received a marshmallow to ensure they were safe for another episode–except one unlucky teen. They had to walk the Dock of Shame, and were taken away by the Boat of Losers. This process went on for 26 episodes over the course of seven months (June to December 2008), and ultimately after a season of sabotage, heartbreak, and alliances, one camper walked away with a grand prize of $100,000. But that wasn’t the case in other countries. In the PAL region, the loser of the American version was actually the winner. I guess they wanted to change things up, which became a recurring occurrence in future seasons.
The season’s special didn’t come until spring 2010, when the cast was nominated for a Gemmie Award for best reality show ensemble. The drama is documented by the hosts of Celebrity Manhunt (a celeb gossip show), Josh and Blaineley. Yes, Blaineley is a girl. However, this heartfelt reunion takes a detour when Chris announces that he will be replacing them with a new show called Total Drama Dirtbags. In an attempt to save their fame, all of the contestants (plus newcomer Sierra) race to NYC to defeat a team of dirtbags and their leader Alejandro. But what does Chris really have planned?…That’s right, a season three! 17 contestants managed to win the reward of starring in season 3, while seven unlucky campers were left in the dust.
There are now three teams instead of two: Team Amazon, Team Victory, and Team Chris Is Really Really Really Really Hot. Yeah, you can kinda tell who named that last one. Anyway, this process continued for another 26 episodes over six months, and there was no season special.
They’ll be split into two teams: the Heroic Hamsters and the Villainous Vultures, pitting the good guys against the bad guys. So far, the official Hamsters are Cameron, Gwen, Mike, Sierra, and Zoey. The official Vultures are Alejandro, Heather, and Courtney. The grand prize will still be a million bucks, but halfway through the season things will change dramatically. The Hamsters and Vultures will disband, and the winner of every future challenge receives immunity for only themselves, and a non-immune camper gets voted off. The process continues until it comes down to two campers, which will decide the winner and the loser.
Christian Potenza, the voice of Chris, has released some lines from the fourth episode of the season:
“When a Hero’s eating time is up, they hear this … and the Villains get this … Last time on a very special episode of Total Drama All-Stars: … Say hello to my metal friend! … I sincerely doubt it, Al … next, I’ll allow it, his pain was our gain … Which team will finish their barf-tastic breakfast first? Find out after the break on Total Drama All-Stars!”
The series was originally going to premiere this summer, but now it should be premiering anytime in Q4 2013. Canadians should expect it next winter.
This will probably be the start of something new and something big for Total Drama: for season six, they’re moving to a new island. Pahkitew Island, to be exact. The season will contain 14 contestants and 13 episodes, and Canadians should expect it next fall. Right now, not much is known about season six except for what the island could look like. Also, in case you didn’t know, Pahkitew is Cree for “explode”. Oh joy.
Anyway, that’s it for this week! Are you excited for the next two seasons coming out? Have you been a fan of Total Drama from the very beginning, and will you be until the very end? Find out when All Stars and Pahkitew Island premiere on Cartoon Network! Make sure to tune in every Friday for awesomeness courtesy of Sammwak!
Stay classy America (and Canada),
Video of the Week: I’m not really one to Facebook quite yet, but news is spreading like wildfire that the social network is updating in quite infuriating ways. This viral hit from ExtremelyDecentFilms shows what it would be like if these updates happened in real life, and it amplifies the frustration in the most hilarious ways.