Title: The Eye of the Warlock
Author: P. W. Catanese
Series: Further Tales #3
Rudi is the son of a woodcutter, and distant cousins to the famous Hansel and Gretel. He even lives in their old house. But when a stranger comes, hunting for the rest of the treasure supposedly left at the witch’s house, Rudi ends up hunting for the origin of those stories. If he can find treasure, he can leave home, and take the two girls living with their family with him, away from the cruelty of his stepmother. The legends, though, hide a sinister reality . . .
I liked what this did with the story of Hansel and Gretel, from what it kept, to what it twisted somewhat, to what storytellers added on to embellish. The gingerbread house, for example, was an ordinary house enchanted with an illusion of sweets to put the children at ease before they were lured into captivity. It feels a lot more solid this way.
Another strength of the book is strong characters. From Marusch and her solitary existence to Hansel and what became of him, the characters feel like real people, struggling with real issues. Hansel and the cottage, for one. He’s bold enough setting the whole thing up, but when confronted with a place where he was once captured and expected to die, he’s assaulted by flashbacks and can barely follow through.
Overall this is an interesting look at what came next. Once again, readers of the Happenstance books are likely to recognize a few things (and will probably find Umber’s tiny role much more amusing). I rate this book Recommended.