Mary Beth Phelps's Reviews > What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy

What-the-Dickens by Gregory Maguire
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's review
Aug 14, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: 2012
Read from August 14 to 16, 2012

Originally posted on bibliophyte:

This is a difficult book to review. I adore What-the-Dickens and Pepper, and much of his/their story is extremely charming and sweet. The narrative about Dinah and her siblings and Gage, however, was simply hard to get into and doesn't make a lot of sense. It also takes up way too much of the book without any kind of satisfactory character or plot development or even a decent resolution. In addition, I'm rather disappointed in Mr. Maguire because it would seem that he modeled the children after religious and homeschooling stereotypes without a lot of first-hand knowledge of such lifestyles. The reason I say this is because not every homeschooling family breeds religious fanatics, a family's religion or faith is not always the motivation for homeschooling, and homeschooled is not necessarily synonymous with antisocial. To be honest, I'm not sure what his point is regarding the children's upbringing because the story would be much greater served without all of the extra religious/sheltered angst.

The story Gage tells about the skibbereen, on the other hand, is fun, magical and feels much more like a proper fairy tale. I love old Mrs. Gangster and her collection of morbid books (gifts from her family), the mama grisset and her maternal affection for What-the-Dickens, and the tooth-achy Bengal tiger, Maharajah. The skibbereen are an awesome and very imaginative creation, and What-the-Dickens and Pepper, what with their evolution and growth throughout the story, have enormous potential for further adventures.

Unfortunately, in addition to the problems mentioned above there is an awkward disjointedness between the two stories, absolutely unbelievable dialogue among the children and Gage, more cheesy and inept adults than you'll find in an episode of Scooby-Doo, and long dull stretches that interrupt and ruin the suspense and magic of What-the-Dickens' story. As much as I enjoyed the fairy tale bits, I had a hard time mustering up enough enthusiasm to even give this book two stars. I am very disappointed in What-the-Dickens and to be honest, I can't think of anyone I would recommend it to.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Dayna (new)

Dayna That's sad. This story seemed to have such promise! I was curious to find out what you thought. Maguire has a habit of disappointing when it should have been AWESOME. (IMHO.)

Mary Beth Phelps I completely agree. He has great ideas and thinks up very lovable characters, but something is definitely lacking in the execution stages. And the editing stage for that matter.

message 3: by Kipahni (new)

Kipahni I completely agree, it's almost like you would want maguire to sit in on a brain storming session like for a movie and then let someone else write the script. that is how i feel about neil gaiman too.

Mary Beth Phelps Haha, that's a good way of putting it. I've only read one book by Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book, and it was pretty good (better than this one at least, lol). I'm interested in reading more of his, though I have a suspicion that you're right :\

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