After the Forest by Kell Woods

Review by Anne Zastrow

1650, the Black Forest, Wurttemberg. Do those sound familiar? If you are a fan of fairy tales and legends, they might. How about Hansel and Gretel?

After the Forest by Kell Woods is an imaginative story of what happened to Hansel and Gretel (here Greta and Hans) 15 years after the gingerbread house and their encounter with the forest witch.

Their parents and stepmother are dead, Hans has too many gambling debts, and Greta's only way to keep them afloat is a secret book, "The Witch's Grimoire," which she stole on her way out of the gingerbread house.

The book speaks to her, and the gingerbread recipe is addictive. Keeping the villagers going back for more is the only way for her to make money. After everything that has happened though, witches are not seen kindly and if anyone were to find out she has magic, that could mean her death. Is "The Witch's Grimoire" good like her or bad like the witch that it first belonged to? Why is it helping her? And is it helping her?

Dark magic is now, for some reason, returning to the woods and Greta is learning she has more magic in her than just baking gingerbread.

"Ginger. Honey. Cinnamon. Flour. A drop of blood to bind its power." Just a little drop here and there, or so the book says. After the Forest is a well-written story with enchanting prose and great descriptions of the magical world in which it is set. It is a slightly dark tale of the siblings' life after their time in the forest meant for the adult reader that loved the original story as a child. A perfect blend of fairy tale, magic, love and history.