Welcome to my MTMC Tours stop for The Twins of Darkwood by Stacey Upton Bracey!
It’s time for a darkly twisted Hansel and Gretel retelling, but this time from the point of view of the “evil” stepmother! I really love it when retellings are from a new POV or just totally restructure the originals and give you a new angle. This one also delivers the Grimm brother level of darkness too 👀👌🏻 Get ready for tremulous but brave heroines, wicked children, murders and villains, and a fight for your life.
Bettina is 18 when she’s told she’ll be married to a woodcutter. She doesn’t want this life, but she heads into it bravely, hoping her fears will be wrong and she’ll grow to love this woodcutter and help raise his troublesome youngsters. Except 😪👌🏻 sorry, Bettina, life is about to get awful. The woodcutter is a horrible man and his children are even worse, nasty and cruel and possibly the reason their last stepmother left. When the woodcutter takes off on a long trip to cut wood, Bettina is left alone with the children indefinitely and she has NO idea how she’s going to survive this.
Sometimes though, she wished for more, to have a bolder life, be a person who was seen and heard. Someone who mattered.
The evil kids makes for a great twist. Bettina is a very timid and soft heroine, who is constantly giving herself pep talks to keep it together. It’s hard not to feel sorry for her, and though she was terrified of the twins, she also felt sorry for them. And honestly SAME. As soon as the truth comes out about these feral, nasty kids also being abused and neglected (and JUST how evil their father is), I couldn’t truly hate them 🥺 I also love how Bettina figured out how to handle them through storytelling. She’d tell them stories of pirates and adventures and the kids would begrudgingly behave so they’d get more story 😭 So soft. It’s still pretty dark though, so you really see everyone cast in a morally grey light.
“Yes, for how can the girl and the boy be heroes unless there are evil people to fight?”
There are also POV chapters from different characters to give you an idea of what Karl the woodcutter is doing and also some of the villagers. There is no gingerbread house, but there IS an oven…and someone does get pushed into it. 💀
I felt like a lot of the story was about braving horrible situations and just survival, plus a bit of redemption arcs and unconventional family love in there too. Bettina’s growing strength was lovely also. Was really rooting for her to take control of her own fate. While it is a sequel, you can totally read it as a standalone, and the story doesn’t end here. So I’m curious where the sequel will leave after the heart-pounding finale this gave us!
If you like you fairytale retellings fractured and dark, with morally grey characters and some cosy scenes and a fight for survival, this is for you!
And head over to my instagram page for the INTL giveaway.
Title: The Twins of Darkwood (Tales of Darkwood #2)
Author: Stacey Upton Bracey
Publication Date: March 10th, 2022
Genres: Fairytale Retelling
Purchase a copy: Amazon
Add on Goodreads
She came to be a stepmother to twins……now she must survive them.
What if the stepmother in Hansel and Gretel wasn’t the evil one?
When gentle teenage Bettina marries a brooding woodsman, she hopes for the best. But his feral children don’t want another stepmother. Abandoned by her husband, she must find a way to survive both the oncoming winter and his twins.
Then their nearest neighbor is pushed into her own oven, and Bettina suspects the children are to blame.Will she find what she needs to outwit the twins? You’ll love this twisted fairytale that continues the Tales of Darkwood series.
Stacey is a produced writer of screenplays and plays. She’s currently working on a YA series called ‘Darkwood,” the first volumes of which will be out this year. She earned a BS in Speech from Northwestern University. Stacey and her husband have raised three lovely people and have a beloved rescue dog who saved them from a house fire. She’s an acting coach and theatre critic and a VP with Arbonne International promoting health and wellness inside and out. Stacey swims with a Masters team, and is a vegetarian. She loves to write, read books and makes great pie. Website | Instagram
@cgdrews with mtmctours!! full review on paperfury.com 👀🙌🏻 #fairytaleretellings #books #booktok #mtmctours #bookish #darkfantasy #booktiktok #booktoker #reader #readersoftiktok ♬ La seine – ISABELA YOUR BOYFRIENDS HERE
Hi Stacey! Thanks so much for chatting with me today about The Twins of Darkwood! Tell us a bit about your publishing journey and how your book went from first idea to finished novel on our shelves!
I am so glad to be talking with you today! While I’ve written and had produced several screenplays and plays, my first love is books. I loved them so much that it always intimidated me to write one! That all changed when our condo burned to the ground, with everything we owned — it was our little rescue dog who woke us up in the nick of time who saved us! (Who rescued who, right?!) After that, I realized I had to get a grip on my fear and write a book. I love telling stories and read and reread Grimms fairy tales when I was young… and YA dark fantasy is one of my favorite genres to read. So, it was just natural that a book in that arena would be my first series… and by the way, The Fire makes an appearance in The Twins of Darkwood too. There is a description of escaping a fire in there (I’m not giving too much away) that mirrors my own experience.
That’s terrifying and so sad about your house fire 😭 So glad your little dog was there to save you. What inspired you to reimagine Hansel & Gretel from the stepmother’s POV?
I was taking a class from one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, and he was talking about twisting fairy tales. As a stepmother myself, I’ve always had an issue with the “evil stepmother” trope. So, I thought… what if… the stepmother wasn’t the evil one in Hansel in Gretel? After all, those kids do push a person into an oven… and the story just rolled from there.
I loved the fresh perspective you went with!! Favourite vs least favourite part of the writing process?
My favorite part of writing is sitting down with the first draft of my latest book and making it better. Taking out bits that don’t belong, adding things that ground it in reality, carve the emotions more deeply. This series is also historical fantasy, so it’s good thing I like reading and researching, ha. I can tell you all about to how to poison people now! My least favorite bit is when a story gets stuck. I like to write at least 2,000 words (about 8 pages of book) a day… but some days it just isn’t going to flow. It’s easy to get frustrated then. I go for a walk or a swim when that happens, and usually something will pop loose, or go in a different direction.
I totally attest to how good some physical activity is for writer’s block 😂🙌🏻 Can you give us a teaser about what you’re working on now?
Yes! I just finished my first draft of book three (and quite a bit of book four) in this series. “On the Patrin Path” continues the story of Gert, Harold, and Bettina, and the curse they’ve inherited from the Twins’ mother. We travel to Marseille for that one. I got the story title from an episode of “Peaky Blinders” when Polly tells her son that the Travellers “follow the Patrin and the crows.” Patrin are signposts left by nature or other Travellers. I love the idea of people having the courage to follow their own path, even if it seems an odd one to the rest of the world. Next book publishes May 10th of this year. I think book four may pop in around late June.
Very excited for more of the series!! And lastly! What are some of the best author moments you’ve had so far?
I love hearing from readers that they couldn’t put my book down, that they loved it. Writing can be a really isolating job, so when you find out that you brought joy, or insight to someone, well, that makes it all worthwhile.
Thanks so much for chatting with me today, Stacey, and congrats on your release!
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