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Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 31, 2017
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“Maguire’s characteristic tone is dark and enchanting in his newest fairy tale revision... a powerful story of hope and redemption sure to delight his fans.” (Booklist (starred review))
“Enchanting, mystical and filled with wonder, it’s the perfect holiday fairy tale for grown-ups.” (People )
“An inventive, and often dark, retelling of the holiday classic.” (BuzzFeed News)
“Continuing his tradition of rewriting fairy tales with an arch eye and offbeat point of view, Maguire turns his attention to Lewis Carroll and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland…A brilliant and nicely off-kilter reading of the children’s classic, retrofitted for grown-ups—and a lot of fun.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
About the Author
Gregory Maguire is the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister; Lost; Mirror Mirror; and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and Out of Oz. Now a beloved classic, Wicked is the basis for a blockbuster Tony Award–winning Broadway musical. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.
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At first, the book charmed me with its atmosphere of slightly foreboding and magically mysterious forest fantasy. I smelled fragrant notes of the old tales--an isolated cottage, a weathered couple with dwindling crumbs to share with a foundling boy, and warnings uttered from a wild bird's beak. Not to mention the cameo appearance of a nameless man recording local legends while his brother awaits him in the village. Fun, right? When skillfully rendered, that's the stuff readers like me crave, and Maguire seemed to have a seasoned grip on the chisel as he whittled his words.
Alas, I lost my appetite after about Chapter 15, when young Dirk (awful name choice I was willing to overlook) Drosselmeyer fumbles his way through his first sexual encounter with a callous and charmless older girl that disappears from his life thereafter without any lingering effect on his story. If using the word "ick" sounds childish, that only serves to prove my original point, but I will tell you I've read Angela Carter with relish, so...
It wasn't so much the inclusion of sex (although I'd argue that its graphic description serves no purpose in this particular story). My offense seems to stem from the feeling that the author dropped the ball. Wasn't there something else that might have happened at this point to assist in the formation of our character? Something more challenging than the puzzle of petticoats? Was it too much to ask for some truly tantalizing twist-of-tale that would have helped hone Drosselmeyer into a more vivid and engrossing guy?
It dawned on me, here, that Dirk was a dull character who didn't live up to my perception of Drosselmeyer at all. He'd bumbled his way out of the forest of his youth, grown up in a matter of boring paragraphs, floundered into an inconsequential character (literally), and would likely continue on this dim-witted path throughout the book. I don't know about you, but I never would have imagined young Herr Drosselmeyer as an insipid boy. It was the cleverness and shadowy intrigue of the strange man perched, owl-like and ominous, upon the Stalbaum's great clock that lured me to Hiddensee in the first place.
So, yeah, I lost steam after the sex scene and was unable to regain momentum to carry on with what was already becoming a pretty tedious tale. Naturally, I wasn't interested in sticking around to find out if Maguire's hints of homosexuality ever came to fruition. Again, not my cup of spiced cider, despite the seemingly ubiquitous fad raging around me. It's not about morality, mind you; I simply can't connect with our culture's current compulsion to beat this dead horse--male, female, or otherwise altered. Enough said.
In a nutshell, I've decided to pass on the remainder of Hiddensee, which I originally described to my husband as "the book I've waited for my whole life." The book has a fabulous premise and gorgeous cover art (both the dust jacket and hardcover), and its beginning is the stuff great classic tales are made of. For me, that's where the fairy tale abruptly ends.
I appreciated the endnotes Maguire provided. It clarified questions I had. Yet, it hinted at Hansel and Gretel being the people who raised him. What was supposed to happen when young Dirk went with his caretaker in the woods? Why Dirk? Why no return to that and iron out that question?
I appreciate the Hellenism brought up in this, and I would have preferred it to be explained moreso, particularly Pan and the Dryad. Yet, I will say this: the nutcracker floating to the island and finding the lost land was a breathtaking scene.
Was Dirk in love with Nastaran or with Felix? It's never clear, and for much of the novel, he seems quite aloof to Felix and not a friend at all.Yes, he changed, but it didn't seem convincing. The night in the attic was superfluous.
It was a well-written novel. He can write beautifully. My problem is with the story. I felt Dirk was a dullard, and there were far too many loose ends that remained untied. That all said, I consider Gregory Maguire a great writer.
Author: Gregory Maguire
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
Gregory Maguire won my heart back in college when I began his Wicked Years series; I caught sight of its green tinted pages and it was over after that. I have all but one book of the series sitting on my bookshelf to this day, and I’ve never seen The Wizard of Oz the same way again. So, when I heard that he was writing a new book in October, this one revolving around The Nutcracker and his mysterious maker, Drosselmeier, I was so excited. One of my first field trips with my school as a child was to the ballet, and ever since then, I’ve been utterly enchanted by the tale of The Nutcracker and Klara, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and the wintry land that they all inhabit, for however brief a time. Gregory Maguire spins a familiar tale with new, charming flair, complete with gorgeous writing, charming characters, elements of Greek mythology and Grimm’s fairy tales, as well as strong historical components. If Wicked weren’t my favorite Gregory Maguire book, Hiddensee would have high chances of taking its place. What an enchanting, thought-provoking novel!
Once there was a boy in a cottage in the woods, whose parents were an old woman and an old man. Then one day, they gave him to the forest itself, perhaps hoping that he will die inside of it. But his life changes forever when two beings, a beautiful wise woman, and a cantankerous, angry dwarf that may or may not be able to conceal himself in a knife, imploring him to find a new place for them to rest. After a near-fatal encounter in the forest, the boy flees, traveling through the various cities in Bavaria. He drifts across the country, becoming a guardian for a well to do family, then he begins to travel across the continent, using toymaking to occupy his restless hands. He finally comes to a halt when he meets his best friend’s family, and comes to be known as the mysterious, almost cloistered old toymaker who lovingly watches over little Klara and gives her The Nutcracker he is so famous for crafting. Beautifully written, lovingly wrought, and finely executed, Hiddensee pairs two origin tales, painting a darker, more mythical creation story for a character I thought I knew: The Nutcracker and Drosselmeier!
I really, really liked this book! I was really excited for a new spin on one of my favorite stories that inspired one of my favorite ballets, and no one does fairy tale or classic retellings like Gregory Maguire. The prose was lovely, almost hypnotic, and I was absolutely spellbound; I also really loved the way that Maguire took elements from both fairy tales and history itself to tell the story of the boy who would go on to become the old, grizzled Drosselmeier; to be honest, before this book came out, it never even occurred to me to wonder where the toymaker came from, or how he came to be with Klara and her family. The pacing of the book took a little while to get going, but I was enchanted once it really started picking up. I loved following Dirk’s journey, and I loved the way that Greek mythology elements were peppered throughout the narrative. It all combined to create an intoxicating, beautiful origin story, and I loved the way that The Nutcracker itself helped steer the narrative. The characters were really relatable though there were a few that I didn’t really care for. I loved the ending, though honestly it made me cry! The language and the stuttered pacing made it difficult to keep up with sometimes, hence the four star rating. Nonetheless, this new offering from a literary darling was exciting, finely wrought, tender, and thoughtful—I really enjoyed the food for thought that it gave me! The bottom line: Twinning origin stories for The Nutcracker and the man whom lovingly crafts him, Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker was a beautiful, gorgeous and thoughtful fairy tale retelling that had me laughing, crying, and thinking deeply—I loved it! Another wonderful entry in Gregory Maguire’s repertoire! Next on deck: Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco!