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The Witch's Boy

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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,345 ratings  ·  210 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)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  1,345 ratings  ·  210 reviews


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Ksenia Anske
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Cheryl
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-enjoy-again
Not as eerie as the cover implied to me. But still wise. Mostly fairly light, but with some exciting bits and some intense ideas. I was very pleasantly surprised by the 'take' that Gruber implies is the 'real' version of the original fairy tales, clever and a whole 'nother point of view.

The mother is *not* uncaring. The boy is *not* a Chosen One. His quest is personal, her life is her own. Good is quite nice, evil is quite wicked, but the fate of the world doesn't hang on anybody's shoulders...
...more
Jaemi
Jan 25, 2009 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
...more
Jennie
Aug 12, 2007 rated it liked it
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
...more
Barbara Gordon
May 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Robyne
Mar 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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!
 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.
Chris
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. I liked the way the author incorporated several different fairy tales into the story and thought that it was a unique perspective on Rumplestiltskin. Great book. Quick read. I liked it so much I've read it twice.
Caroline
I have a somewhat funny story that goes with this book. A few years ago I was at my boyfriend's house and, having finished the book I was reading, he offered me The Witch's Boy which was a childhood favourite of his. I took it home with me and put it on my bedside table where it sat for the next TWO YEARS!

I finally picked it up this month because I was in the mood for a middle grade and I quite enjoyed most of it.

The ending was really lovely and had me feeling all the feels. However I found
...more
Stephanie *Extremely Stable Genius*
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.
Elizabeth
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Three of my favorite components to any story include snarky prose, fairy-talishness, and redemptive themes. This book, The Witch's Boy, relies heavily on all three and yet I did not love it. In fact, I did not even like it.

The snarky prose dissipates into plain darkness after a few chapters. The incorporation of various classic fairy-tales and characters feels clunky and forced. Nor did I care enough about the title character to celebrate his ultimate redemption.

There is no clear line between
...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 ...more
Barrett Brassfield
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Generally excellent and thought provoking. The story, to my mind at least, draws its power from the love that the witch in the title has for Lump, an extraordinarily ugly child according to the novel's description. There is much more to this story than the love she bears for him. Others love him too. I particularly like the character of Ysul the bear, who cares for Lump when he is of nursing age. Lump's journey is a very interesting, and often tragic, one and at times he is very easy not to ...more
Quinn
Jan 14, 2011 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 children
...more
Emma Woodcock
Aug 12, 2012 rated it liked it
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
...more
Kim
Jan 09, 2009 rated it liked it
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
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
Beth
Feb 17, 2014 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Catherine Chauncey
Oct 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1-12
"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
David
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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
Heidi
Mar 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Jennifer
Nov 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, ya, book-club
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
Cindy
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Clever weaving of twisted tales... loved that it was different!
Marsha
This book is a wonder, a delight and a dark terror, much like the older fairy tales it emulates. It digs into the notion of what magic is and what it isn’t and the true nature of a mother’s love.

There are many allusions to popular fairy tales, especially those of Grimm, and the story cleverly reinvents some of the well-known ones. But most of all it tells the story of Lump, a strangely ugly baby who learns almost too late to appreciate all that his kindly foster mother has done for him.

Lump
...more
Min Wen
'The Witch's Boy' tells the story of Lump, a boy raised by a witch, a cat, a bear and an afreet. This book is essentially a retelling of well-known fairytales such as Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel as well as others. In fact, Lump himself is at the core of a legend, though which one remains to be seen by the readers until quite close to the end.

While I enjoyed reading this, I was unable to really connect to the characters. Part of the reason is that this story is written in the
...more
Ray
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-fiction
I really enjoyed this book. Not quite a 5-star read, wish there were half-stars so I could give it 4 and a half. Fascinating tale of a witch who finds an abandoned baby and raises it on her own ... well, not quite on her own ... she has a talking cat, and an enchanted bear for a nursemaid. Anyway, the baby is not exactly pretty ... in fact, it is downright grotesque to look at, but the witch brings him up as best she can. What makes this a special book is the inclusion of other fairy tale ...more
Bradley Valentine
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've only recently discovered the work of Micheal Gruber. I already decided long before getting around to Witch's Boy that Gruber is very likely me favorite newly discovered author. Not to say I'm 100% in love with everything the guy has done. But WOW he's so good! Several of his more recent books (by that I'm thinking since 2005 or so) have been warmly embraced by critics and readers. Even so, I'm like HOW IS HE NOT MORE FAMOUS? Moreover, I just discovered over the last year since 2019 that ...more
Helen
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an enjoyable read. I don't go in for spoilers so if you like fantasy books with a twist on old fables/traditional fairytale's then you just might enjoy this book.

If you read the books blurb, it outlines the gist of the story, about a Witch, who finds a very ugly baby abandoned in the forest. She names him Lump, after deliberating whether it would be wise to keep him or not. Then the story unfolds. Covering Lumps upbringing, the pitfalls of being a Witch raising a baby; with a Bear as a
...more
Debra Glasheen
“The Witch’s Boy,” by Michael Gruber, is for you if you like a nice dose of fantasy and fairytale that dips into darkness while exploring very human relationship and psychological issues. Much of the protagonist’s life takes place while he is a child, but this is not a story for children, though it will appeal to young adults, as well as adults, who appreciate a non-formulaic approach to a story of magic and growing up. The novel is pleasantly unique and intriguing, though the reader has to work ...more
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What's the Name o...: SOLVED. disfigured boy, witch, forest... [s] 3 37 Jul 24, 2008 11:02AM  
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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.
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“Magic is but a word for an art beyond our descry or a happening that fails of easy explanation.” 0 likes
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