Synopses & Reviews
A wondrous journey through the realms of magic.
They call him Lump. Ugly, misshapen more goblin than human child abandoned as an infant and taken in by a witch, he is nursed by a bear, tutored by a djinn; his only playmates are the creatures of the forest, whose language he learns to speak.
But when Lump inevitably stumbles into the human world, his innocence is no match for the depths of people's cruelty, which turns his heart to stone, and fuels a vengeance that places him and his witch mother in deadly peril. Yet these disasters also send Lump on a journey of self-discovery, to realms deep within the earth and far beyond mortal imagination.
In this stunning fantasy debut, Michael Gruber has created a world that is at once deceptively familiar and stunningly original, a world of cruelty, beauty, legend, truth, and above all, wonder. Readers will delight in the author's ingenious retelling of classic fairy tales and will marvel at the stunning new tale of a boy raised by a witch, a cat, a bear, and a demon.
"Gruber (Tropic of Night, for adults) creates a parenting parable that may appeal more to adults than to teens, especially when the central parent character here is more sympathetic than the child. 'Mothering was simply more difficult than I ever imagined,' admits the unnamed witch of the title, a decade after she finds an abandoned baby boy and decides to raise the child rather than eat him. The witch calls the infant Lump, and places him in the care of a she-bear nanny. Lump ('part pig in his snout [with] doggy ears') is sullen and ungrateful. Despite leading, literally, a charmed life, he seeks the companionship of human children, who then torture him. When his mother refuses to exact revenge, Lump turns to a djinn who, in exchange for the djinn's freedom from his bond to the witch, kills the menacing children and their family. This settling of scores upsets nature's 'Pattern,' putting Lump, his mother, the cat and the she-bear in grave danger. Gruber's story is a mlange of fairy-tale retellings (the witch has played roles in Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella; Lump makes friends with Hansl and Gretl), but the allusions except for Lump's infatuation with the miller's daughter do not add up. (Lump's mother 'draws down his name' in a Faery ceremony, and the boy turns out to have a memorable moniker.) Inventive details such as Lump's cradle, which rocks itself and croons lullabies, will charm, but the languorous pace and muddled message will likely make it off-putting to teens. Ages 14-up. (Apr.) " Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“Haunting.” London Times
“Brilliantly woven.” The Guardian
“This astonishing fantasy plumbs the depths of the human heart and lays bare its emotions.” Booklist (starred review)
In his first novel for young readers, the author of the acclaimed thriller "Tropic of Night," creates a world that is at once deceptively familiar and stunningly original in this collection of ingenious retellings of classic fairy tales.
This critically acclaimed tale of a witch and her goblin-child is wholly original, and the legendary characters of old who touch their story -- Cinderella, Rapunzel, Rumplestiltskin -- are made new through Michael Gruber's imaginative lens. Gruber's literary voice is as magical as his imagination. With The Witch's Boy he has created a wondrous journey through the realms of magic.
About the Author
Michael Gruber has been a marine biologist, a restaurant cook, a federal government official, and a political speechwriter. He lives in Seattle, Washington, and is currently at work on another novel.