The Magic Circle - Donna Jo Napoli
Ugly one is what she has been called for a long time. She does not consider herself beautiful; she is hunchbacked and one such as her could not be beautiful. She is a midwife, the best one you can get, and a mother to Asa; her beautiful daughter.But Bala tells her that she can become a healer. She can save people and children from devils. She believes this is God's calling for her and listens closely to Bala and does what Bala tells her.For nine years she was a healer, for nine years she commanded demons and they had to obey. But while removing an extra finger from a baby, she thinks she's safe and cannot be harmed by demons. They trick her, showing her a beautiful ring lying on the ground and foolishly, she puts it on and wants to give it to her daughter.But now they've got her. She has to leave and hide. Hide away from people so she hurts no one. And for nine years she lives alone, learning how to trick the demons and keep them away. When Hansel and Gretel show up, she lets them in and the demons don't come, she believes she can be safe and can raise these two children that she loves so. She soon finds out that cannot be.I know the story of Hansel and Gretel, of the evil witch who so badly wants to eat them. And I've read many retellings of old and classic stories, but this is definitely one of the best I've read.It tells the story of the witch, who was a kind and good hearted woman who became a healer so she could help people. But she is tricked by the demons and turned into a witch. She has to abandon everyone and everything she loves just so she can't harm anyone.In the original story of Hansel Gretel, you don't care about the witch, but only for the children who are going to be ate by the witch. This retelling shows a very different side to the story and the one you feel so horribly for is not the children, but the witch herself. This was an amazing retelling and I really felt for the witch, even before she became the witch. She thought herself not beautiful because she was a hunchback, but she was caring, kind and loving. I think that was the most important thing and that made her beautiful. The book could also be pretty intense at times.If you're looking for a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, this is the one you should read.