Authors Chantal Gadoury & A M Wright
Page Count 365
Publication date March 2020/ Publisher Parliament House
Men have gone missing before.
The village of Krume is plagued by a haunted wood and a hungry witch. It’s been that way for as long as Hans and Greta can remember, though they have never seen the witch themselves; no one has.
When men start to disappear once again in the cover of night – their bloody hearts turning up on doorsteps – the village falls into frenzied madness.
Hans and Greta, two outcast orphans, find themselves facing accusations of witchcraft and are met with an ultimatum: burn at the stake, or leave the village forever.
With nowhere else to go, they abandon their only home.
As they venture into the strange forest, their path is fraught with horrific creatures, wild and vivid hallucinations, and a mysterious man tied to the witch’s past.
The Shrike is watching, just beyond the deep darkness of the woods.
I was drawn to this title pitched as a dark retelling of Hansel and Gretel, though I’d say it’s includes a definite likeness to Red Riding Hood too.
The story is told from multiple perspectives of Hans, Greta and Barin but truth be told all the narratives sound the same. We also flashback to separate stories of the deaths of twins Hans & Greta’s parents, as well as Barin’s previous life.
The Shrike & The Shadows opens well with the village of Krume suffering another loss courtesy of the Shrike. Unlike the witch gobbling children in her gingerbread house, the Shrike compels men and boys to follow her before ripping out their hearts and eating them. There are no sweet houses in this tale, instead a twisted tree of death and a pack of undead wolf creations.
After the truly heinous villain Emory banishes Hans and Greta the story becomes dull and repetitive. We follow the twins journey through the woods in search of a new home with the Shrike hot on their heels. Unfortunately not a lot really happens for a novel this length and the run-on sentences, empty dialogue and repetitive description made it a slog to read.
The origin of the Shrike is never fully explained, Hans is an absolute pig of a man and Greta is the most whiny, pitiful female I’ve ever come across in fiction. Adding to this an abrupt ending with a cliffhanger I have no inclination to follow up, I’d be hard pressed to recommend.
The cover is beautiful, the premise interesting and the Shrike herself was a fantastic character but this doesn’t balance the mediocre writing and desperate need for edit.