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The Cottage in the Woods

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  410 ratings  ·  113 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 eage
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published February 10th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  410 ratings  ·  113 reviews

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Tamora Pierce
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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
Monica Edinger
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
my blog review.

I love fairy tale reworkings. At the same time their popularity of late has resulted in a lot of mediocrity and so when I come across something new I'm both excited and wary. Is it going to be a goofy-movie-Shrek-imitating-like thing or more in the vein of Michael Buckley's Fairy Tale Detectives, Christopher Healy's Hero's Guides, or Adam 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 se
Jan 02, 2015 rated it liked it
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
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
Oct 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: kelsey, type-other
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: the wr
R. E. Banks
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The ending made me cry.
At first, I got the impression that the story was going to be boring and silly, with the whole plot revolving around the mysterious walker in the night. Oh, and the Mr. Bentley, which we are told from the blurb that he 'makes her heart race'. Sigh. Predictable.
Not so.
This book had several issues revolving around it, with surprisingly deep and more serious concepts than usually found in children's books. This is NOT one of those empty, dumbed-down books for children. (And
✨Jinglemarco✨  Маркуша - Мишутка (Nursery rhymes enthusiast)*
WOW!! I had so high expectations for this book! =D
And they were fully rewarded! <3

Wonderful book! Gorgeously written and built, it is THE Goldilocks and the three bears retelling - with a flavour of Jane Eyresque victorian age!

Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
I loved this story and if you like fairy tale retellings, Gregory Maguire, and Jane Austen novels then this is the book for you! That being's hard to imagine what child I would recommend this too apart from my own (on audiobook).

5 stars for narration and story, 4 stars for its limited audience (since this is intended for middle grades, but it would have to be middle grade readers who don't mind a slower story.)

The audiobook is narrated by the amazing Katherine Kellgren so definitely li
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
5 stars. I loved this book. Not really for children, despite being a "children's book." So topical to the times we live in right now
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Bonnie Jean
Jun 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
May 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
"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
Sarah Adamson
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ya
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
Mar 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! Very clever and fun retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears with a dash of Brontë mixed in.
Oct 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love a book with talking animals.

It wasn't my absolute favorite story but it did leave me thinking about it and the Bears days after I finished so I guess that counts for something!
I have put off this review as I am so conflicted. I loved the book and the rewriting of of the Three Bears and Goldilocks tale in an updated story of social conflict, racism, child abuse and romance. The story unfolds slowly and is a wonderful read. My library placed this book in the juvenile section where I can tell you it will not circulate. The story is too deep and the vocabulary too difficult for even an excellent young reader. In this day of fairy tale twist books I think it could find an ...more
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
By combining the beloved fairy tale characters of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the style and themes of Jane Eyre, and a quaint forest setting, Coville presents a story filled with charm that tugs at heartstrings.

The composition of The Cottage in the Woods makes it difficult to decipher the best audience for the title. Young readers will more readily and eagerly gravitate towards a story featuring anthropomorphized characters but the expansive vocabulary necessitates a more experienced reader
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book.

An amalgamation of fractured fairy tale characters fill a story that at first glance feels like a droll bit of Victorian literature, turns into a story that is a bit more enthralling.

Ursula is a governess for a rich family who lives in a stately manor. Ursula is also a bear as are her employers. They live near Bremen town where humans and enchanted animals coexist. However, currently that coexistence is tense, as their are certain humans who do not like their animal
May 10, 2017 rated it liked it
A bit skeptical when reading a book by a family member of a great author but I'm pleasantly surprised with this one. Delightful writing, never boring. However the plotline may be a bit flat with only little spikes of thrill here and there. But still enough to engage me till the end. Another beef that I have with this book is that there was no illustrations. According to the author's blurb she illustrated more than 30 books. Why can't she illustrate one of her own? We all know that any stories th ...more
Cynthia Parkhill
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Delightful gothic adventure, worthy of Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters, with the notable distinction that the characters are re-imagined out of European fairy tales and nursery rhymes. It's told in first-person by Ursula, a she-bear working as governess to the wealthy Vaughns, a family of bears who live in the titular cottage. The story of the family and the secret they are protecting is set against a backdrop of prejudice by humans against Enchanted animals like themselves. Additional themes, ...more
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I can't say enough about this book. Unassuming as it was, it brought me hours of delight. Romance, intrigue, daring episodes filled with the most lively descriptions. It was wonderful!

As an aside, Coville has an extraordinary vocabulary! I ended up keeping a running list of words that were new to me and learned almost a dozen new words!
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Charming retelling of Goldilocks via Jane Eyre. And as if that isn't enough, there was an interesting subplot about...race relations? between humans and enchanted animals. The main character, Ursula, is charming and intelligent and I loved reading about her struggling to do her job well in difficult circumstances while also navigating the politics of the enchanted world.
Jun 13, 2018 rated it liked it
This book just keeps going. Even only ten pages in, I didn't think it would ever end. It's a four hundred page retelling of Goldie Lochs and the Three Bears. With themes like child abuse, prejudice, and constant admonsihment at one's job. You know, for kids. The writing is quite posh but it reads slow and dry. It had ebjoyable moments, but I'm glad it's over.
L.  Stone
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-2017
Delightful story. I enjoyed it very much. Part Victorian romance part fairy tale. While it was marketed as a children's title I think it would have a hard time finding its audience there, and yet was probably to gentle for an adult book as well. Still I loved it and will probably relisten to it as it is well written and enjoyable and exactly the kind of story I love.
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow! That first part me had me sad, and a little confused, but the ending was the cherry on top!! There is nothing better--a story of politics, fantasy, adventure and romance; what more could you possibly ask for in a book??
Katrina Lybbert
I really enjoyed this re-telling of the Fairy Tale - Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It was very creative and I loved how the author weaved in characters from other Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes. There was adventure, mystery and romance.
Apr 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I DNF at page 240. I found this book slow. The concept was great, but I'm not sure who the audience is (if I, at age 29, found the book slow and plodding, what would an actual middle schooler think?).
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very different take on Goldilocks and the three Bears. I story to hold the attention and imagination of children.
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