The Witch's Curse (Christy Ottaviano Books) by Keith McGowan is the sequel to The Witch's Guide to Cooking with Children. It was released last week. The reviews for this one appear to be stronger than those for the first one, too.
I admit, this one didn't interest me as much--I am rather ruined on Hansel and Gretel's witch after Donna Jo Napoli's brilliant The Magic Circle. Really, if you haven't read that one, sit down for a few hours and do so. It's short, dark, and super brilliant. I'm shocked at how much I adore that book. I eschew dark fiction beyond my fairy tale life but sometimes fairy tales deliver horror so well that my preferences are forgotten and I am engrossed. And it's published for kids although I have always been a little squeamish at its recommended age level actually depending on a child's sophistication.
But then I saw this line in the Booklist review for The Witch's Curse: "McGowan here creatively interweaves aspects of Grimms’ Brother and Sister, blending classic fairy-tale and contemporary elements, magic, suspense, and vibrant, diversely drawn kid protagonists into another edgy, absorbing read."
Brother and Sister! Or Little Brother and Little Sister! I don't discuss it much here, but I adore Brother and Sister. I even annotated it on SurLaLune where it is one of the least visited tales. I had to present it in my Bettelheim course in college and it was serendipitous to say the least. I wasn't as familiar with it then--although I am now--and it's been entertaining over the years to see where the tale has been blended with Hansel and Gretel so I find McGowan's concept of his sequel using the tale just brilliant. I haven't read either of his books, but this choice gets them higher on my TBR radar.
A shadowy witch and a cursed hunter--it's tricky business for Sol and Connie as they face this awful pair. The brother and sister have a long, dangerous hike through the accursed valley, they're running out of food and water, and the old stone lodge they discover with a collection of animals inside means big trouble. Can anyone save them? A heroic woodthrush? The All Creatures Manager? The Camper Lady? The Know-It-All Cube? Or will they have to save themselves? Sol and Connie--the brother and sister who were almost EATEN in The Witch's Guide to Cooking with Children--are back, and this time things are looking even worse, because a centuries-old hunter is waking up . . . thanks to the witch's curse.