Friday, October 15, 2010


The Witches Kitchen - Allen Williams
Genre: YA Fantasy
Released October 5, 2010
# of pages:
Publisher: Little Brown

I've said a couple of times, when talking about a book, that 'I've never read anything like this,' and I always mean it. Here I'm saying it again: 'I've seriously never read anything like this.'
The Witches Kitchen is a short, fun, action-packed read that I devoured last week. It was just the kind of book I needed, too: Witches Kitchen reminded me of a fractured fairy tale, and I could totally visualize this as a Pixar or half-live action, half-CGI film (and this would make an excellent film. Somebody call Walden Media!)
We're first introduced to the Toad, who has just narrowly escaped being tossed into a cauldron as part of a spell conducted by two very nasty witches. She then sets out on a journey through the creepy labyrinth that is the Kitchen, along with a diverse and highly amusing cast of characters, in order to regain memories of her past (because is a Toad ever REALLY a toad in these stories?) and try to find a way out.
This was a fun story in and of itself, and it definitely kept me entertained, but there were several factors that made Witches Kitchen so incredibly memorable. First off, it reminded me so much of Beauty and the Beast, with the inanimate objects that are actually alive...only here, the inanimate objects (kitchen utensils like knives, brooms, and a tricked-out cauldron, are a little on the homicidal side). There are also fairies, demons, faun-like creatures, an imp, and some creatures that the author, Allen Williams, thought up entirely from scratch. This book in parts read like a literary, imaginative Discovery Channel - I have never seen so many fascinating and 100% original creatures in one single book! WOW.
And what is cooler than 100% original, highly imaginative creatures? ILLUSTRATIONS of 100% original, highly imaginative creatures. Here's an aside: I absolutely love illustrations in books, even if they're just the little bitty pictures above the chapters in Harry Potter or whatever. I love illustrations in fantasy books. So I was very impressed with the artwork in this book. Granted, I was reading an ARC copy, so I'm not sure how much of the artwork made it into the final book, but what I saw was awesome. And what's even cooler is that the author, Allen Williams, also drew the artwork himself. Massively impressed.
The only thing about Witches Kitchen that could have been better, for me, was the ending. It just seemed a little abrupt, like the story wasn't entirely finished yet. But besides that, Witches Kitchen was an incredibly entertaining, highly imaginative tale that I'm very glad I read.
It may look like it's geared more towards younger YA audiences, but older teens and twentysomethings will enjoy this book just as much! Read it in between the long, nuanced other books on your TBR if you're in the mood for a fun, action-packed fairy tale with lovable characters, creepy witches, a black widow or two, and a Toad with a heart of gold.
Final Grade:PS - check out my Witches Kitchen ARC giveaway at the top of the page! Enter by 10/23!
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