I'm bear-y excited to have The Cottage in the Woods Blog Tour stopping by today with my review...
The Cottage in the Woods
by Katherine Coville
For fans of Shannon Hale, Adam Gidwitz, and Michael Buckley comes a luminous new twist on a tale readers only thought they knew. . .
Ursula is a young she-bear who has come to work as a governess at the Vaughn estate. Although she is eager to instruct her young charge, Teddy, she is also frightened, especially when inexplicable things happen in the huge house after dark. Ursula is sure she has heard footsteps in the hallways at night, and that something is following her during her walks in the Enchanted Forest. Then there is Mr. Bentley, a young bear also employed by Mr. Vaughn, whose superior disposition is enough to drive Ursula to tears . . . and yet why does he also make her heart race? As Ursula works to unravel the mysteries of the Vaughn manor, she will have to be very, very careful. After all, true love, justice, and a girl with golden locks are at stake. And in the Enchanted Forest, not every fairy tale is destined for a happily ever after.
Jane Eyre + The Three Little Bears, this is what Katherine Coville’s The Cottage in the Woods is...and yet, it is so much more. In the Enchanted Forest, home to humans, enchanted animals, and regular animals, there is is a cottage. Well, really it is a vast estate. This is the home of Mr. and Mrs. Vaughn and their young cub, Teddy. Fresh out of school Ursula has come to the cottage to be Teddy’s governess. Ursula soon finds herself wrapped up in a golden haired mystery, the unlucky nemesis of a grumpy nurse, in the middle of a community war, and losing her heart to the infuriatingly handsome Mr. Bentley.
The Cottage in the Woods is one of the most original and loveliest fairytale/classic retellings I’ve ever read. I’ll admit that I had my doubts when I first learned of this book and its Jane Eyre inspired, full of talking bears premise...but Coville certainly squashed my doubts and impressed me with her captivating storytelling. This story may be full of fairytale elements and talking animals, but it is anything but childish. With its classic, Victorian prose and dialogue, The Cottage in the Woods has such an eloquent and refined air about it, without feeling stiff or flowery. Coville creates a wonderfully charming, believable setting with the Enchanted Forest, the Vaughn estate, and the little hamlet around it. The fairytale elements are just the right mix of whimsical, humorous, and refreshing. Coville introduces many well known fairytale stories and characters in completely new and entertaining ways!
One of the things I like best about this book, is the way that after the first few pages, I almost forgot that the main characters were enchanted animals and merely saw them as complex, interesting characters. Our heroine Ursula is a sweet, smart girl who isn’t afraid of a little adventure and I really liked getting to know her. Ursula is surrounded by an eclectic and amusing group of enchanted animals and humans, from fun Teddy, endearing Goldilocks, nasty Nurse, lovable Mr. Wright, and of course, the handsome Mr. Bentley.
But The Cottage in the Woods isn’t all fairytales and romance. With the brewing tension between the enchanted animals and a sect of humans, Coville makes a poignant and relevant statement about prejudice and human nature.
My Final Thoughts: Unique, enchanting, clever...The Cottage in the Woods is all of this and more!
4/5 yummy cupcakes
Katherine Coville is an artist, a sculptor, and a doll maker. She has also illustrated more than 30 books, many written by her husband, Bruce Coville. Katherine lives in Syracuse, New York, with Bruce and a varying assortment of pets. This is her first book for young readers.