The Witch's Boy
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The Witch's Boy

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3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  942 ratings  ·  162 reviews
A wondrous journey through the realms of magic

They call him Lump. Ugly, misshapen -- more goblin than human child -- abandoned as an infant and taken in by a witch, he is nursed by a bear, tutored by a djinn; his only playmates are the creatures of the forest, whose language he learns to speak.

But when Lump inevitably stumbles into the human world, his innocence is no matc...more
Audio CD, 7 pages
Published March 29th 2005 by HarperFestival
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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
Jaemi
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...more
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...more
Jennie
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...more
 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.
Stephanie
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
Juushika
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
Heidi
Jul 23, 2008 Heidi rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Heidi by: leecat http://readingwithmyears.blogspot.com/
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
Beth
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alyssa
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
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...more
Aiyana
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
Trish
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...more
Cynthia
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...more
Qing
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
Lett'
C’est l’un de mes premier livres au sujet de la magie que j’ai lus depuis l’ouverture de ce blog. Je ne me rappelais plus de ce genre plutôt plaisant, donc, à partir d’aujourd’hui, je pourrais lire des livres de cette sorte-là.
J’ai beaucoup aimé ce livre, mais je suis prévenant, donc je ne vous dévoilerait plus de spoilers. Voilà, j’ai très apprécié la forme d’écriture du livre, même si c’était une traduction. De plus, j’ai aimé les nombreuses références aux contes populaires que s’approprient l...more
Talyn
Apr 15, 2012 Talyn rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fairy tale fans, those who loves twists on classics
Recommended to Talyn 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...more
Jessica
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
David
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
Martin
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...more
Infinite Playlist
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...more
Kim
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...more
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...more
Beth_Adele
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...more
Yannie
This book is probably the most memorable young adult book I have ever read, next to "Harry Potter".
There was an old woman who lived by herself in the forest who finds a basket on her doorstep I guess you can say one day. It is a little, ugly, abandoned baby whom she names Lump. SHe is a magic woman who manages to hire a bear as his nursemaid (and you just love this bear to death.) and a djinni as his tutor. She also has a pet cat who is actually her cat familiar called Falance and he is very w...more
Lauren Stout
Michael Gruber's The Witch's Boy is a coming of age tale set in a fantasy world filled with magic. When an old witch comes to find a slightly disfigured child abandoned on her doorstep she decides to take him in and raise him despite protestations from her cat Falance. Gruber's novel traces the often strained relationship between mother and child, and shows both to be a disappointment to the other at times. The child, Lump, is forced to deal not only with his disfigurement, but also with an unco...more
Catherine Chauncey
"Witch's Boy" is a fantasy novel that incorporates the fairy tales we know into a new world. It is about a deformed boy named Lump who is found and raised by a good witch of the forest. He has a magical childhood, but never knows that he is ugly. When he encounters human children for the first time, they capture him, beat him, and display him as a goblin in an attempt to make money. From then on, he is a bitter young boy who turns into a bitter young man, and eventually does evil acts that ruin...more
Jennifer
Between 2 and 3 stars.

I wanted to like this book more than I did. It was well-written, and Gruber incorporated fairy tales in interesting ways most of the time (although sometimes I got the feeling that he was patting himself on the back about how clever his incorporation or inversion of a particular fairy tale was). I also appreciated that it was darker in theme in a way that is reminiscent of Grimm's Fairy tales, and the emotional complexity of the novel.

However, I just didn't find this book...more
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Endicott Mythic F...: The Witch's Boy - discussion 20 26 Jul 22, 2013 01:43PM  
Children's Supernatural 1 13 Mar 14, 2008 02:38PM  
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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
More about Michael Gruber...
The Book of Air and Shadows The Forgery of Venus The Good Son Tropic of Night (Jimmy Paz, #1) Valley of Bones (Jimmy Paz, #2)

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