Book Review by Lissa Sloan: After the Forest by Kell Woods
Greta and Hans survived. They escaped the witch and made it home to their father in a happy ending to a horrific tale. Fifteen years later, the siblings still share the family home, and Greta makes a living baking her incredible gingerbread to sell in their Black Forest village of Lindenfeld. But Hans has not coped as well as his sister. He is spinning out of control with a dangerous gambling habit that has put their mountain home in jeopardy. A group of mercenary soldiers appears in the village, and the new baroness doubles the taxes, allowing the poor to pay a “Blood Tithe” with their labor in lieu of money. Though she doesn’t dare reveal the secret behind her addictive gingerbread--the witch’s book of magic--for fear of reawakening the villagers’ suspicions about her, Greta must find a way to protect her home and those she loves before it’s too late.
Though After the Forest is a continuation of “Hansel and Gretel,” returning to the siblings as adults, Kell Woods’ debut novel is so much more. She expertly mixes other classic fairy tales into a 17th century European post-war setting complete with witch trials and a sadistic noblewoman. Binding these elements is the emotional throughline of adults healing from childhood trauma, inviting the reader to examine “Hansel and Gretel” through a very different lens. The result is an enchanting (sometimes tear-jerking) concoction spiced with shapeshifting wolves, a cursed bear, green witches, and gorgeous fairy tale symbolism, and I devoured every word.
If you’re looking for a wondrous and terrifying fairy tale, Kell Woods has the secret ingredient. Magic, love, loss, and adventure; After the Forest has it all.
You can pre-order a copy HERE.
Lissa Sloan is the author of Glass and Feathers, a novel that tells the story of Cinderella after the “happily ever after.” The Enchanted Press will publish it next February.