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The Cottage in the Woods

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  108 ratings  ·  41 reviews
For fans of Shannon Hale, Adam Gidwitz, and Michael Buckley comes a luminous new twist on a tale readers only thought they knew. . .

Once upon a time, there was a girl with golden locks. But that’s just the beginning of this tale. The real story begins with a bear.

Ursula is a young she-bear who has come to work as a governess at the Vaughn estate. Although she is eager
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published February 10th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Jane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëThis House is Haunted by John BoyneThe Turn of the Screw by Henry JamesThe Cottage in the Woods by Katherine CovilleAgnes Grey by Anne Brontë
Governess Tales
4th out of 44 books — 11 voters
Winter by Marissa MeyerA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. MaasFairest by Marissa MeyerCrimson Bound by Rosamund HodgeThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
2015 YA Fairy Tale Retellings
40th out of 52 books — 116 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 619)
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Tamora Pierce
This is one of the most unusual fairytale retellings I have ever read--I'd say so even if I didn't know the writer! In a way it's a new look at "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" from the point of view of the bears, but in a far larger way it is not. The bears are well-to-do, civilized people, citizens of a town that is half human and half beings from what we would recognize as fairytales.

Coville has introduced some new wrinkles, particularly racism on the part of both populations, with violence
Jane Eyre + The Three Little Bears, this is what Katherine Coville’s The Cottage in the Woods is...and yet, it is so much more. In the Enchanted Forest, home to humans, enchanted animals, and regular animals, there is is a cottage. Well, really it is a vast estate. This is the home of Mr. and Mrs. Vaughn and their young cub, Teddy. Fresh out of school Ursula has come to the cottage to be Teddy’s governess. Ursula soon finds herself wrapped up in a golden haired mystery, the unlucky nemesis of a ...more
Monica Edinger
my blog review.

I love fairy tale reworkings. At the same time their popularity of late has resulted in a lot of mediocrityand so when I come across something newI'm both excited and wary.Is it going to be agoofy-movie-Shrek-imitating-like thingor morein the vein ofMichael Buckley's Fairy Tale Detectives,Christopher Healy's Hero's Guides, orAdam Gidwitz's Grimm series? And if YA dark is it going to be a lame bodice-ripper or something with heft, like Tom McNeal's Far Far Away? And so seeing adesc
Cate Brooks
Fun little lark of a read in the fractured fairy tale meets period romance - I think the line being used is "Goldilocks meets Jane Eyre." Very unusual, witty and well done - the only trouble will be who to recommend this one to. It will take the right kid who has a pretty sophisticated sense of humor and range of vocabulary but is young at heart and wants a very Austen/Bronte kind of romance...with bears from an enchanted forest. There's a niche for all books but I don't see high circ stats on t ...more
The Cottage in the Woods is an odd book. It's largely a Gothic romance with enchanted forest animals as the main characters intermingling with the odd human here or there. The story is told in first person by Ursula Brown, a young bear taken on as governess at the Cottage in the Woods. Her ward is young Teddy who she finds to be smart and trusting. But there are mysteries and dangers afoot including the discovery of a young girl that could cause the tensions between enchanted creatures and human ...more
Bonnie Jean
Jane Eyre meets Goldilocks and the Three Bears is probably the best one line summary that I could give this novel. Throw in cameos by several fairy tale and literary figures and a plot that revolves around racism (speciesism?) with a dash of regency romance and you end up with a very odd but fun to read book whose intended audience leaves me puzzled. I found this book on the new reads shelf of the children's section, probably because of the fractured fairy tales aspect, but I'm pretty sure that ...more
Gail Gauthier
"The Cottage in the Woods has been described as Jane Eyre meets Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It certainly is. Jane Eyre fans can have a fantastic time picking out the connections. A young, powerless, single female enters a large house as the employee of a wealthy man. This is a wealthy, married man with a family, which is one of the ways this book is different from Jane Eyre. But he's also a bear, as is the young female, Ursula. (Relating to ursine, I'm guessing.) Ursula is there to act as a ...more
I love fairytale retellings, and was familiar with Katherine Coville's art from the work she did on her husband Bruce Coville's novels. I was quite curious to see what she would do with the story of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." It turns out that she would marry it to Victorian romance and social issues in an engrossing pastiche.

Ursula travels to the Vaughn home to be a governess to Teddy, an unusually well-behaved child. She soon discovers that the house holds a secret, a young blonde human
In two words: absolutely phenomenal.

In more than two words:

The book opens with Ursula, a she-bear, introducing her story of her time as a governess at The Cottage. From the get-go it has a very "Jane Eyre" feel. But it's so, so much more. Yes, the Bronte-like tone carries throughout the book, but the story is very, very much its own. (Even as a Goldilocks retelling.)

Characters from other stories - Mother Hubbard, Peter Pumpkin Eater, among others - peep in and out of the story, giving it color
In two words: absolutely phenomenal.

In more than two words:

The book opens with Ursula, a she-bear, introducing her story of her time as a governess at The Cottage. From the get-go it has a very "Jane Eyre" feel - now, "Jane Eyre" is my favorite book in all the evers, and I have to admit at first I kept a wary eye out for this just being a JE re-telling, but with bears. But it's so, so much more. Yes, the Bronte-like tone carries throughout the book, but the story is very, very much its own. (Ev
Munro's Kids
In this retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, we see through the eyes of the new young governess hired by the Vaughn family (AKA the three bears) to educate their young son Teddy. She quickly realizes that the household carries secrets: who or what scurries around the house at night? And who is young Mr. Bentley, the arrogant but compelling bear who shows up when least expected?

That's probably the best way I could paint this book.I really have no idea who the intended audience is for this
Sarah Adamson
Wow. Thanks to Tamora Pierce for recommending this. Where to start - it's a combination of Goldilocks and the 3 bears, Mother Goose nursery Rhymes, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice and a book on the U.S. civil rights movement.
The closest I've ever come to this style and fantastical writing before is Jasper Fforde's Nursery rhymes Crime books.
I really enjoyed this book and found it a real page turner. It has amazing characters, huge twists and beautiful writing.
Ursula Brown, a young bear of good
Loved this book! Very clever and fun retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears with a dash of Brontë mixed in.
I thought I would like this book more than I did. It's Goldilocks and the Three Bears told with some twists and in a Regency setting. Fairy tales and Bronte/Austen leanings. What could go wrong with that? Apparently, for me, a few things.

Primarily, I thought this was directed at a different audience. This book was in the juvenile section of the library, so I naturally assumed it would be for younger readers. Instead it seemed to be for an older audience. I'm not really sure why it was in the ch
Margo Tanenbaum
Jane Eyre meets Goldilocks and the Three Bears in this enchanting tale of an impoverished governess hired to take care of young Theodore in a creepy, huge manor house in which portraits follow you with their eyes, strange footsteps follow you down the hall, and objects disappear from rooms without a trace. Filled with tropes from gothic novels, this book is hard to put down. It is sure to please tweens and even teens who enjoy fairy-tale mashups, whether TV series such as Once Upon a Time and Gr ...more
Jun 30, 2015 Liz rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: fantasy
The story: A governess goes to teach a young student, and finds there's a mystery in her employers' enormous home. Sound like your typical old-fasioned tale? This one has a twist, though--the governess is Ursula, a young bear fresh out of school, and her employers are the Three Bears. The mystery involves a little girl with golden curls who's looking for something that's Just Right...but this is NOT your standard Goldilocks story!

June Cleaver's ratings: Language G; Violence PG; Sexual content G;
Children's/YA book with talking animals. Jane Austen style. Political commentary on race relations and prejudice. Retelling of a fairy tale.

She could have done two of these successfully, maybe three. All four was a little too ambitious, unfortunately. I'd have liked this better in more natural modern English, without any effort to make it kid-friendly. The attempt at eighteenth-century prose often came off as stilted and self-conscious, and Coville's enjoyable characters and insightful treatment
Ursula is a young bear governess who has just started in her first position as governess to little Teddy Vaughn. She soon finds that her position will not be an easy one — Mr. Vaughn is a demanding employer who is overprotective of his only son; Teddy’s old nursemaid takes an immediate dislike to Ursula and strives to ensnare her in trouble at every turn; Ursula clashes immediately with the insufferable Mr. Bentley, a clerk at the manor; and her precious locket disappears one night through the a ...more
Laura Mitchell
In this retelling of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" (from the bears' perspective), history is comprised of fairy tales and nursery rhymes. Some animals are enchanted, including those that participated in various fairy tales, such as the pig who starts his own masonry business. But trouble is brewing between the humans in this world and the enchanted animals. Into this situation comes Ursula Brown to be governess to Teddy, the "baby bear" of the three bears. There is adventure, intrigue, forebo ...more
Rita C
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Goldilocks and the 3 bears, mashed with Jane Eyre/Jane Austen. Ursula Brown has been hired as a governess to Teddy Vaughn in the so-called "Cottage in the woods" which is actually a mansion. The mysterious sounds that frighten her turn out to be a voiceless feral girl the bear family found in their home while trying to burgle it, who they call "Goldilocks". Racism rears its head as the Anthropological Society tries to enforce a separation between humans and the enchanted animals they detest. Fil ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Amount Listened to: About 9%

Honestly, I picked this up solely because Katherine Kellgren is a fantastic narrator. Plus, it's fairy tales, so why not? Even if the cover really freaks me out.

The fact that it's Katherine Kellgren narrating actually ended up being the kiss of death for me, not because she's doing any less of a good job. The problem is that this is about an ursine governess going to a house to educate a kid. I've been listening to The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, ab
I was drawn to this young adult book at the bookstore because of the cover and the description. What's not to love about an adaptation of Goldilocks and the 3 bears? Especially when the bears are cast as upper class gentry and the style of writing resembles Jane Austen.

A very sweet story and I loved the heroine. My favorite parts were when she would "drop her head into her paws and weep". How can you not love references to paws instead of hands, snout instead of nose?!

The writing was okay. It d
A young she-bear becomes a nanny for a distinguished bear family. She is inexperienced but sincere and ends up in many trying situations not the least of which is the conflicted feelings she develops for another member of the staff, Mr. Bentley.

The appearance of other well-known fairytale characters along with a mystery and the growing unease between the enchanted beings and humans give this story lots to ponder. (The magic mirror is a stitch.) This book should appeal to older readers who enjoy
Wooden Horse
Apr 20, 2015 Wooden Horse rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 10-13 year olds
I am not sure what to say about this book. Like many a novel by Hemingway I had to pull myself through the narrative in hopes it would get better and amazingly, like Hemingway, by the last chapter I was sad to see the characters go and dreaded reading the last page. The story does not in any way compare to his stories it was just that sense of drudgery in me that was the same. I chuckled over the references to other Grimm tales, rolled my eyes at some of the romantic~ish experiences, cringed at ...more
Rachael Stein
Fellow fans of The Wind in the Willows: have you ever tried to pin down exactly how big Toad is? Most of the time he seems to be the same size as Ratty, Mole, and Badger - that is, the size of a real toad. But he's always stealing motorcars from people, and presumably they are people-sized motorcars. And then there's the scene where he borrows the clothes of a human washerwoman and escapes from prison... oy.

I think Grahame gets away with this kind of logistical nonsense due to the slippery, drea
Ms. Yingling
Ursula's father, a poor teacher, is glad when his wealthy schoolmate, Mr. Vaughn, hires Ursula to be the governess for his young son, Teddy. The family lives near the Enchanted Forest, where one must be careful because some of the animals are wild, while others are sentient like the Vaughns and Ursula. Ursula is young and impulsive; she runs afoul of not only Mr. Vaughn, but the drunken and nasty badger Nurse. Teddy, however, adores her, and the two form quite a bond over writing assignment and ...more
Kristen Jones
I found this book charming. The writing style was fresh and easy to read and the plot was new, and surprisingly complex. Issues of class and discrimination were handled with a light touch, and depending on the level of the reader you could read as much or as little into it as you wish. I found the ending slightly too neat to give it five stars, but still a fun read.
Kathy Chain
I really enjoyed this- a retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears with a kind of Jane Eyre sensibility. Story is told from the point of a young female bear in her first job as governess to young Teddy of the Vaughn bear family. Dark shadows, unkind servants, and a secret society all lead to the intrigue.
I was pretty neutral on this book at first. I read about 150 pages before getting very interested. But once I got into it I like it. Definitely written by a writer who can weave bits of other fairy tales together into a new and original book.
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