Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Witch's Boy” as Want to Read:
The Witch's Boy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Witch's Boy

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  1,095 ratings  ·  170 reviews
This critically acclaimed tale of a witch and her goblin-child is wholly original, and the legendary characters of old who touch their story -- Cinderella, Rapunzel, Rumplestiltskin -- are made new through Michael Gruber's imaginative lens. Gruber's literary voice is as magical as his imagination. With The Witch's Boy he has created a wondrous journey through the realms of ...more
Paperback, 377 pages
Published April 25th 2006 by HarperTempest (first published March 29th 2005)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Witch's Boy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Witch's Boy

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson LevineThe Goose Girl by Shannon HaleBeauty by Robin McKinleyThe Princess Bride by William GoldmanFairest by Gail Carson Levine
The Best Fairytales and Retellings
297th out of 1,796 books — 7,349 voters
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson LevineBeastly by Alex FlinnPrincess Academy by Shannon HaleThe Goose Girl by Shannon HaleFairest by Gail Carson Levine
YA Modern Retellings
173rd out of 305 books — 642 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,966)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Ksenia Anske
A tall twisted brew of a story, a mix of fairy tales, from Little Red Riding Hood, to Hansel and Gretel, to Pinocchio, to Rapunzel, to Snow White, Jack and the Beanstalk, all mixed against the background of a Rumpelstiltskin, THE WITCH'S BOY takes you on a journey from a witch's house in the woods, to Faeryland, to medieval towns and squares, to places full of gems under the earth, to the sea, and back around again. There are bear nurses, and cat men, and kings and queens and the like, and the m ...more
I didn't like this one much. I didn't like any of the characters. In the end, I think Gruber just tried to work too many fairy tales in, which just didn't work, because they felt crammed in, not like they belonged. Also, the ending felt really rushed.

What it does have going to for it is the fact that it's a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, and how often do you see that? And, it's more of a "boy book" than most fairy tales re-tellings are. If Gruber had stuck just to Rumpelstiltskin and didn't try t
This is the story of a very unlikely family, and what happens when best intentions aren't quite enough.

Returning home one day, a witch finds a boy left in a basket with a note. Though it is against her nature, she decides to take it home, and once she gets him there, she decides to keep him, despite the advice from her familiar Falance not to do so. She calls the bear Ysul to be his nurse, and the afreet Bagordax to build his nursery and be his teacher. And so Lump grows up with the ability to s
Barbara Gordon
I bought this for the astoundingly beautiful cover and for the opening: "Once upon a time, in a faraway country, there was a woman who lived by herself in the middle of a great forest. She had a little cottage and kept a garden and a large gray cat. In appearance, she was neither fair nor ugly, neither young nor old, and she dressed herself modestly in the colours of stones. None of the folk who lived nearby (not the oldest of them) could tell how long she had dwelt in that place."
Gruber plays w
Berfin Basak
Her ne kadar Yumru'ya buyudukce sinir olsam da masallara farkli acilardan bakmak guzeldi, bastan sona büyülü tam bir cadı öyküsü. :3
 Linda (Miss Greedybooks)
I enjoyed this book, I am very amused by the thought it brings me to - what kind of fairytales would a witch tell her children?

I think this would be a good book to write, the bedtime stories of a witch to her child.
could have been a lot better. It had promise but I found all the characters to be boring and, well, I didn't like any of them. disapointing.
Brigid Keely
The first 20 pages or so utterly enraptured me. They felt like everything a fairy tale should be. And the re-tellings of Fairy Tales sprinkled throughout the book were refreshing and intriguing. But the central theme of the book-- that a child raised by a talking bear, a magical cat, a petty trapped demon, and a witch losing her humanity should be a good child and a good man and is inherently flawed and bad if he isn't-- rubbed me the wrong way. On the other hand, Lump does earn his humanity and ...more
When a witch finds an exceptionally ugly baby left in a basket--accompanied by a note that reads "the devil's child for the devil's wife"--she takes him in against her better judgement. Raised by a witch, a bear, and a djinn, destined to become a fairy tale legend himself, Lump's story is one of love and the birth of wickedness. The Witch's Boy is one of the books you pick up to read for ten minutes, and then put down an hour later. Its constant sense of discovery and forward motion are what ma ...more
There's nothing I didn't like in this book, and everything to love. It's chock full of fairy lore and fairy tales. (I think of fairy lore as those tales of fairies under the hill, magic, and witches, and fairy tales as those we know from the Brothers G and HCA.) The fairy tales are turned inside out from our usual knowledge of them, for instance the parents were bad, the witch was good in Hansel and Gretel. Just what tale corresponds to the story of the witch's boy isn't immediately apparent. Th ...more
Cindy Vaille
Clever weaving of twisted tales... loved that it was different!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The first 3/4ths of "The Witch's Boy" is fun enough. In fact, I really enjoyed the first 1/4, when Lump was growing up. However, the last 1/4 of the book is painful, with the main character finding a pretty little wife who he marries after just meeting, and who, despite being blind, cooks, cleans, and is an overall "Manic Pixie Dream Girl"-- perfect, childish, and loved by everyone around her. When she comes into the picture, the book takes a nosedive. Also, in focusing the last 1/4 of the book ...more
Many fairy tales are woven throughout this book in a witty and cunning style. Important life issues are confronted that will leave you in laughter and tears. Magic is afoot, and mother nature is alive!! Loved this one!
It's been a long time since I began a book and within a page thought to myself, with that particular avaricious joy one feels upon discovering a great book, "Oooh, this is gonna be good!" This retelling of Rumplestilskin goes much further than most reinvented fairytales, introducing compelling motives and unforgettable characters, especially the witch herself. Ultimately the story of a mother and son, this story illuminates the reciprocal longing and unforgivable lapses of the parent-child relat ...more
Tiffany Hickox
I started this book thinking it would be a good Halloween read, when really it was so much more. The witch (who had no name through the whole book, which I really liked) was painted like a natural witch, one who is in tune to nature and all its intricacies, which was a nice break away from the traditional witch role in fairy tales.

I especially like the way classic fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretyl were intertwined into the story and rewritten with slightly diffe
Quite a lovely and compelling reworking of many classical faily tales. The writing style is a touch archaic, which makes it nicely mythic in tone, but not at all hard to follow (provided you're willing to look up a lot of outdated words or guess them from context). There were some moments where I disagreed with points the author made, but that's all right. Over-all, it's a complex hero's journey featuring the most unlikely of characters and plenty of pleasant surprises. The extra features at the ...more
It's mostly a story about bad parenting and twisted fairy tales. Unfortunately, most of the twists have been done before, and I didn't find anything particularly original about the story. The whole bit where you find out what Lump's Name is really irked me. It felt way too rushed, like it had only been thrown in there to add yet another fairy tale to the mix. It's not a bad story by any means, but I found it dull and irritating because the main character is extremely unlikable. But the writing i ...more
I love worlds where magic exists. I enjoyed the woman's teaching moments and the cat's arrogance. Everything is as it should really be and familiar stories are retold. Right when you start to wonder which tale this one will be named, the author satisfies. And when the little brat reaches his lowest point, he gives new meaning to hitting rock bottom.

The written language and skill of the audio book reader left me many times sitting in my car, having reached my destination, and not getting out beca
As a fan of Michael Gruber's literary/artistic thrillers,(The Book of Air and Shadows, The Forgery of Venus) I was very curious to read his book for young adults.

I was not disappointed. Not only does Gruber give us a fresh twist on familiar fairy tale whose characters are woven throughout his plot, but he gives us a fantasy version of a modern American syndrome.

A witchy woman who lives in a forest comes upon an abandoned baby so ugly she calls him Lump. However, something about this helpless cre
Brief premise: An ugly and misshapen baby is abandoned at a powerful witch's cottage. For reasons unclear to herself, she raises the baby as her son... well, more like Ysul (a bear) raises Lump and is tutored by an afreet. Lump is spoilt, bratty, yearning to learn magic (though he shows no promise of any), and for friends.^^^^Lump's desire for friends ends up with him being mistaken for a goblin and subsequently captured by a woodcutter's family. The torment he suffers at the hands of the childr ...more
Loveliest Evaris
Apr 15, 2012 Loveliest Evaris rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fairy tale fans, those who loves twists on classics
Recommended to Loveliest by: librarian
I read this book in the 6th grade and it exceeded my expectations. I'm not a fantasy lover, and I find those whole 'put a new spin on old cliches' to be very droll, but this book really wowed me.

The book indeed puts a new spin on old fairy tales like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Hansel and Gretel. The unique and winning choice was to tell the stories from an altered and warped perspective.

Forgive me for reaching out to pop culture, but the majority of it is basically summed up by Shr
The infant boy was so ugly his parents thought he must be the Devil’s child. Abandoned at the base of an old oak tree as a gift for “the Devil’s wife”, the witch, who was accustomed to finding offerings from the local people at this tree, intended to leave the baby to his fate as a meal for a wolf or lynx. Then without thought, and in an uncharacteristically compassionate move, the woman took the infant home and named him Lump, an ugly name befitting his ugly face. Lacking maternal skills, the w ...more
After reading Gruber's mostly brilliant Detective Paz series (beginning with "Tropic of Night"), this was my first other sampling of his work, and with mixed results. Marketed towards what is probably the 10 to 14 age range, this is indeed an inventive story (the same strength as the aforementioned trilogy). It also infuses some revised versions of many fairy tales throughout the story. Sometimes these are clever, like Cinderella actually being a bratty girl who took advantage of her stepmother, ...more
Fairy tales are usually for kids, but not this one. The Witch's Boy a dark story about what happens when humans explore all of their horrible human ways is part bildungsroman, part fable and part a commentary on human behavior. Or perhaps a better description is that the novel is a rich set of observations on the contradictory nature of human behavior. None of the characters are completely good as we normally see in fairy tales, but there's something human in all of them. Not all of the evil cha ...more
Rene Kirkpatrick
This was this month's book group read- I read it originally when it first came out in '05 and I remember being awed by the way this man writes. This time around I was looking forward to that feeling all over again. It took longer but it finally came along.

I really enjoyed this book,I really dislike the main character, the Witch's Boy, Lump, but I really like the book. Lump was an abandoned baby, ugly, noisy, left on the witch's doorstep. He grows up into a particularly nasty young man, greedy a
Miss Bookiverse
Ein tolles Buch mit typischen Grimm-Märchen zur Grundlage, die aber ganz anders erzählt werden und in ein neues, eigenes Märchen eingewebt sind.

The Witch's Boy erzählt die Geschichte von eben diesem Jungen, der als Kind aufgrund seiner entstellenden Hässlichkeit einer Hexe überlassen wird, die ihn mehr schlecht als recht, aber mit viel Liebe und Hilfe ihrer tierischen Gefährten aufzieht. Man durchlebt mit dem Jungen Lump sämtliche Höhen und Tiefen, seine Kindheit, seine Jugend und die ständige W
I am, by no means, a good literary critic. I mostly rate books by how they make me feel while I read them. I know many of you can appreciate a book for more than that, but it has to be really good for me to give a high rating while still making me feel awful.

That being said, this book was very well written. I'm certain some of you would enjoy reading it for that alone. But I had a hard time with this one. It was sad. Its hard for me to get behind a character that is so negative. I felt bad for
Emma Woodcock
Still not sure how I feel about this book.
There were elements that I loved: the set up, the nursery with the windows on foreign lands, the cradle that whispered bedtime stories. But once the story began to kick in it seemed mostly concerned with how not to raise a child. I can't say I disagreed with any of the points made, but I really wasn't expecting to be lectured on child rearing, and I found that it raised my hackles a little. Similarly when the author goes off on a lecture about the dange
I wish I could give it 3.5 stars.

I quite liked this book. Parts of it were a little bit clunky, but Gruber is a great writer and that helped ease the plot along a little better than had it been written by a less skilled writer. The retelling of fairytales throughout is at times dubious, he manages to pull one off really well and then fall a little flat with the others. Lump is supposed to be a very unlovable character, and though I don't believe he fully redeems himself in the end (kind of like
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 65 66 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Endicott Mythic F...: The Witch's Boy - discussion 20 27 Jul 22, 2013 01:43PM  
Children's Supernatural 1 13 Mar 14, 2008 02:38PM  
  • Straw Into Gold
  • Birdwing
  • Spells of Enchantment: The Wondrous Fairy Tales of Western Culture
  • Swan Sister: Fairy Tales Retold
  • The Eye of the Warlock (Further Tales Adventures, #3)
  • Hole in the Sky
  • Spinners
  • The Owl, the Raven, and the Dove: The Religious Meaning of the Grimms' Magic Fairy Tales
  • Ludwig Revolution, Vol. 3
  • Fitcher's Brides
  • Spinning Straw into Gold: What Fairy Tales Reveal About the Transformations in a Woman's Life
  • Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird
  • The Troll Queen
  • The Magic and the Healing (Crossroads, 1)
  • Shiva's Fire
  • The Wizard's Apprentice (The Keepers, #2)
  • Girl, Nearly 16: Absolute Torture (Jess Jordan, #2)
Michael Gruber is an author living in Seattle, Washington. He attended Columbia University and received his Ph.D. in biology from the University of Miami. He worked as a cook, a marine biologist, a speech writer, a policy advisor for the Jimmy Carter White House, and a bureaucrat for the EPA before becoming a novelist.

He is generally acknowledged to be the ghostwriter of the popular Robert K. Tane
More about Michael Gruber...

Share This Book