Gregory Maguire’s ‘Hiddensee’ Is A Grown Up Fairytale [REVIEW]


Discover the tale of the once and future Nutcracker in Gregory Maguire’s Hiddensee. (Photo by Garen Meguerian, Flickr)

Most all of us grew up with fairy tales. But let’s be honest, these days we’re used to the homogenized Disney versions rather than the darker folk tales penned by the Brothers Grimm or even E. T. A. Hoffmann. Now with Hiddensee, New York Times bestselling author Gregory Maguire takes us back to the ominous Black Forest of Bavaria and the salons of Munich to show us just how the world-famous Nutcracker originated.

Gregory Maguire's HIDDENSEE

William Morrow

In Hoffmann’s tale, Drosselmeier is the one-eyed toy maker who presents his goddaughter, Klara, with the once and future Nutcracker. But Maguire travels back farther in this new book, just like he did in Wicked and Still Alice, exploring the toy maker’s back story, pealing back the layers of German Romanticism to get at the tale’s Hellenic mystery.

Written in beautiful prose, Maguire’s Hiddensee is a Freudian tale that beats with a treacherously black heart, which is sometimes gruesome to behold, likely due to the time period in which it is set. This is Brothers Grimm territory, after all. They could get pretty grisly when you get down to it. Truthfully, at points I didn’t even know if I had the stomach to make it through this book, especially after reading the scene where a wolf is drained of its blood. Ew! Needless to say, this isn’t a fairytale to read to your kiddos before they go to bed… unless you want them to have a fitful night’s sleep with nightmares dancing through their heads. However, I should tell you that this is my first time reading Maguire’s work, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so squeamish.

Still, I did face another obstacle reading this book. The more I read, the more confused I became. I was bombarded by questions, such as how some of the characters began, where they really came from, and what their motivations are. The answers are not always clearly defined and I found myself unable to process where the novel was heading and wondering what kind of train I boarded. And, the novel takes so long to finally catch up with the part of the story that we are all most familiar with, the story had difficulty maintaining my interest.

All in all, I must say that fans of television’s Grimm or of other works of fantasy may have found this book more appealing than I did. I was hoping for lighter fare, I suppose, and thus found the dark origins unnecessarily disturbing and ghoulish. Therefore, be forewarned that Hiddensee is definitely not a world inhabited by Disney princesses and romance. This is for hardcore fans of the genre, those prepared to look beyond the surface story and gaze at the frightful past.


Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire
(Photo by Andy Newman)

Gregory Maguire is the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly StepsisterLostMirror Mirror, and the Wicked Years, a series which includes WickedSon of a WitchA Lion Among Men, and Out of OzNow a beloved classic, Wicked is the basis for a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical.

Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad. In 1987, he also helped found and for 25 years codirected Children’s Literature New England, Inc., a nonprofit that raises awareness of the significance of literature in the lives of children.

He received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University, and his B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany. He was professor and co-director at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children’s Literature from 1979 to 1985.

He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts. Visit his home on the Web at and like him on Facebook.

By Gregory Maguire
304 pgs. William Morrow. $26.99.

TLC Book Tours Tour HostPurchase Hiddensee at one of these fine online retailers: HarperCollins, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Hiddensee is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

Hiddensee Giveaway

Congratulations to Jackie Mungle of Indianapolis, Indiana for winning the Hiddensee giveaway! Stay tuned for more opportunities to win more great prizes. Contest ended November 29, 2017.


About Heather Fink
Heather Fink is a writer, bibliophile and award-winning librarian who loves to introduce the next generation of readers to the wonderful world of books. She currently resides in Texas.

3 Responses to Gregory Maguire’s ‘Hiddensee’ Is A Grown Up Fairytale [REVIEW]

  1. Pingback: Gregory Maguire, author of Hiddensee, on tour November 2017 | TLC Book Tours

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.

  3. Jathan Fink says:

    Reblogged this on Jadeworks Entertainment and commented:

    Fans of Wicked and Still Alice rejoice! Gregory Maguire is back and this time out he is tackling the tale of the Nutcracker. But brace yourself, this story isn’t all hearts and flowers and sugarplum fairies.

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