The Witches' Kitchen

Allen Williams, Little, Brown, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7595-2912-0
Artist Williams has created an unusual debut novel that echoes his accompanying lavish pencil illustrations: shadowy, mysterious, and vaguely disturbing. When the Toad wakes up, the amphibian is dangling upside down over a bubbling cauldron in the hands of two witches. She doesn't know who or where she is, but she knows this is not a good place to be. Escaping, she discovers she is in the Kitchen, an infinite, magic-infused "world of unending chaos" that is as black as the witches' hearts. She finds a few creatures willing to help her find a way out of the dangerous darkness: Natterjack, an iron-handed imp who refuses to sacrifice his artistic soul; Horsefly, a fierce sword-bearing fairy; and Sootfoot and Pug, two other tiny travelers looking to get home. Under siege by the witches' monsters, each hop toward freedom brings the Toad closer to understanding her dilemma and recovering her origins. Sometimes dipping into horror territory, Williams's writing is effective in bringing his intense and odd characters to life, but the story mainly feels like a vehicle to show off Williams's skilled portraits of his ghoulish menagerie. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/11/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
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Ebook - 978-0-316-12204-7
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