This is a highly nuanced book, although toward the end the “message” is a bit too spelled-out for my taste. I kept feeling that this is not a book for children, but a cautionary tale for adults who plan to raise children of their own: the do’s and the don’t’s, through fantastic settings, vividly portrayed magical characters, and fairy tale re-envisionings. I’m not sure how well received this tale might be to a young reader who had not already loved the high fantasy genre or had not been familiar with the original stories. To me — it is entirely satisfying, being a mother, a fairy tale lover, and a fantasy fan.
What’s so remarkable of the book is Michael Gruber’s finely honed, poetic and yet not at all sappy tone. I thoroughly appreciate the talent and craftsmanship of his writing!