Author: Sally Gardner & David Roberts (Illustrator)
Publication Date: November 7th 2013
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
TRIGGER WARNING: Rape and scary imagery.
“There are too many ghosts walking this earth. They weigh heavy on the living.”
A young soldier, a captive princess, witches, wolves and Death walk hand in hand in COSTA AWARD winner Sally Gardner’s exquisitely written new novel inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, THE TINDERBOX, illustrated by David Roberts. Otto Hundebiss is tired of war, but when he defies Death he walks a dangerous path. A half beast half man gives him shoes and dice which will lead him deep into a web of dark magic and mystery. He meets the beautiful Safire – pure of heart and spirit, the scheming Mistress Jabber and the terrifying Lady of the Nail. He learns the powers of the tinderbox and the wolves whose master he becomes. But will all the riches in the world bring him the thing he most desires? Fairy tales are often the cruelest stories of all; in this exquisite novel Sally Gardner writes about great love and great loss. – Excerpt from Goodreads.
I read this back in October of 2016 and I’m just reviewing it at the end of January 2017. I loved this book so much but I felt a little intimidated about reviewing it. I feel like to give a really in-depth review I would need to read it a couple of times to really get a good grasp on all the themes. I’ll do my best to give my thoughts on the book as is though.
The book is a retelling of Han’s Christian Anderson’s fairy tale Tinderbox. I was not familiar with it at all. I’m honestly not sure if it’s one of his more well-known tales, but it wasn’t in the collection that I had of his popular fairy tales.
This was a cover buy for me, I’m not going to even try to lie. I was browsing the YA section at my local bookstore and I saw it and all of its beautiful glory. I mean come on, that cover though! There is similar artwork through-out the entire book. The drawings are incredible and haunting. They really added an extra element to the story.
The writing was beautiful and read just like an old fairy tale. Normally a fairy tale is fairly short so this was really going deeper into the story. The book has a very eerie atmosphere. There is almost a sense of dread that I felt the entire time I was reading this. I knew from that start that this wasn’t likely to end up with a happy ending. I know from Anderson’s other work that he likes to write very depressing fairy tales, so I didn’t trust for a second that this one would be any different.
I will likely read this again in the near future so that I can take a harder look at it. First time through I just sat back and enjoyed the writing and illustrations.
I would recommend this to anyone looking for a much darker fairy tale. Don’t go into this expecting your typical YA read. You will be very disappointed. This tale is strange and haunting.
This would be more along the line of a Grimm Fairy Tale. I think it’s worth the purchase just for how beautiful the illustrations are.