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The Eye of the Warlock
by P. W. Catanese
When Paul Catanese e-mailed me in response to my reviews of his first two Further Tales, I was flabbergasted. To be sure, it wasnt the first time I had heard from an author whose books I reviewed. Nor was it the first time I was offered a sneak peek at a book that was about to be published. But it was the first time that both things happened together, making Book Trolley history and my year! I have reviewed many books, and I have previewed a couple, but this is the first time that I was offered a chance to preview a book I was planning to read! Thanks, Paul!
If you know about The Brave Apprentice or The Thief and the Beanstalk, you already have an idea about what the Further Tales are about. Each book takes its departure from a classic fairy tale, such as The Brave Little Tailor, Jack and the Beanstalk, or, inThe Eye of the Warlock, Hansel and Gretel. In each case, the adventure takes place in a world where the fairy tale really happened, but a generation or two later, when a new young hero steps forward to face even more terrifying dangers. And sometimes, part of the new quest is undoing the damage caused by the thoughtless hero in the original tale.
Thoughtless, you ask? Whats so thoughtless about Hansel and Gretel? They were innocent children, abandoned by their parents in a cruel forest, lured into the clutches of an evil witch by an illusion that her house was made of sweets. Before the witch could cook and eat Hansel, Gretel tripped her into her own oven and cooked her alive. And the children made their escape, carrying away some of the witchs treasure, so that they would not have to worry about hunger or homelessness again. Is that so wrong?
Well, for one thing, Hansel didnt take enough treasure the first time, because years later he has to come back and enlist the aid of another woodcutters boy to steal the rest of it. For another thing, Hansel apparently didnt think about the witchs thousand-year-old, warlock father, who is very agnry: not because the witch is dead, but because she stole the warlocks treasure and the warlock wants it back. Vile Vilikusdeathless, indestructable, with a habit of eating children and an army of amphibians called murglinshas come to the dark forest to make it even darker (not to mention wetter). He wants his treasureand since Hansel has it, that means he wants Hansel.
So Vilikus and his vile murglin stooges kidnap the children of the village, demanding to have Hansel handed to him before he will let them go. Of course, being what he is, he probably doesnt mean to let them go at all. And besides, what he really wants isnt Hansel, but an object of power that the witch stole from Vilikus and that Hansel stole from the witch…that, and a very angry boy named Rudi, who is fiercely protective of two little girls and who, like Hansel, has survived an evil womans attempt to lose her children in the forest. It is Rudi who is really the hero of the adventure, and who in the long run faces the greatest danger: the danger of being forced to make a pact with the devil…the danger of becoming like Vilikus himself.
With stakes far beyond the original storys escape from a witchs oven and a stepmothers cruelty, the new Further Tale tests its new hero further than any fairy tale, further even than the other Further Tales. Vilikus, like the evil emperor in theStar Wars movies, tries to tempt the brave lad over to the dark side. His leverage includes not only the boys concern for the people he loves, but also the anger that smolders in his heart. Rudi must rely on his friends a HUGE step in a battle for his life as well as his soul. Stopping a monster gaining unthinkable power, and saving some children from being cooked and eaten, almost seems like an added bonus.
Its a thin, fast-reading book, ideal for young readers, with a quick, clear, vivid style. It is creepy, thrilling, sensitive, and even a little romantic. You may have heard it here first (woo-hoo!): trust The Eye of the Warlock to make you see a well-known story in a magical new way!