Review Detail

Kids Fiction 2623
Dickensian nightmares abound
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Eddie Pipkin, called Pip, is an orphan. One fateful night, before the drunk, cruel, greedy Mr. Oakes who runs the orphanage can sell Pip to a pirate, the brave, skinny lad pushes his captor into the brine and escapes. He sneaks onto a wagon belonging to a group of traveling players called the Stage Fright Theatre Company, and before you can rattle your chains, he is carried inside the walls of a cursed town, a town without children—Hangman’s Hollow.

And that’s just Chapter One. And really, the story only gets going in Chapter Two, which is when Pip finds out that Hangman’s Hollow is under a sort of siege, and that all the children are either hidden, or stolen by the evil that lurks in the woods surrounding the town. A great deal happens in this book.

Much of what takes place in Chris Mould’s new (to the U.S.) book, PIP AND THE WOOD WITCH CURSE could be described as macabre, dark, eerie, weird and other good, dark-fairy-tale type words. I do enjoy a creepy tale, and this one has all the right ingredients: witches, plucky children, a gloomy Dickensian—or possibly medieval-ish—setting, talking familiars, a sinister wooden toy, a boy named Toad. In fact, if anything, there are a few too many ingredients, all rolling around together, and the story felt unwieldy at times. On the other hand, the Gorey-esque drawings, also by Chris Mould, suit the text perfectly. Indeed, they have a subtlety the text sometimes lacks.

The book ends with a rescue, which was satisfying, but with most questions as yet unanswered, which was less satisfying. Answers, no doubt, will come in the promised sequel. This book was a visual treat, and not a bad read, and if the sequel is similar, I’ll certainly give it a go.
Good Points
Compelling artwork
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