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The Witch's Boy

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,167 Ratings  ·  183 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
Audio CD, 7 pages
Published March 29th 2005 by HarperFestival
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,136)
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Ksenia Anske
Jul 16, 2013 Ksenia Anske rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 25, 2009 Jaemi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 01, 2012 Barbara Gordon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 12, 2015 Berfin Basak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 19, 2010 Stephanie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, 2010
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
Jul 23, 2008 Heidi rated it really liked it
Recommended to Heidi by: leecat
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
Aug 01, 2015 Cindy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clever weaving of twisted tales... loved that it was different!
Apr 07, 2016 Martha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fabulous story of a Mother (in this case a witch) whom takes an unwanted, hideous babe for a child, knowing nothing of how to raise him, nor having much time to do so, but loves the child with all her heart and wants to protect him from all that may hurt him. She discovers that they may not be the best way to raise a child, but a little late in his growing process, but is her unconditional love enough still...will the boy learn to be a wonderful man? Or will he just be a ugly, bitter, ...more
Narrated by Denis O'Hare. A witch/healer discovers an abandoned and hideously ugly baby that she decides to raise as her own, with the help of Izul the bear and despite the misgivings of her cat, Fallance. Raised as an only child in a remote location, Lump is unaware of his ugliness until his attempt to befriend children new to the area ends with him being kidnapped, tortured and put on display for profit. He destructively avenges the kidnapping but the consequence is that his mother must sacrif ...more
Mar 02, 2014 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 09, 2016 Liv rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. When I first looked at this book, I thought to myself "Hm, doesn't really look like much, but eh," and I checked it out. Little did I come to find out this would be my favorite book. It's a mix of so many classic and wonderful fairy tales, not to mention all the mythical creatures that make guest appearances. This book blew my mind, the way the story progressed was beautifully done, and I would re-read this everyday if I could. The envy, the happiness, the anger, the pain, the joy, they are ...more
Mar 22, 2007 Robyne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 20, 2014 Tiffany Hickox rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
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
Oct 27, 2014 Aelvana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 16, 2014 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 08, 2009 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 14, 2011 Qing rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
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 really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 30, 2011 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 22, 2012 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, audiobooks
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
Sep 24, 2012 Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary, fiction
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
Apr 17, 2012 Rene Kirkpatrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Endicott Mythic F...: This topic has been closed to new comments. The Witch's Boy - discussion 20 28 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 about Michael Gruber...

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