The Cottage in the Woods

Retelling fairy tales is a popular pastime these days. Did Gail Carson Levine start this trend with her clever retelling of Cinderella and other fairy tales?

It doesn’t matter, really. What matters are the fun and excellent books which have come about as authors give their spin on well-known stories.

In The Cottage in the Woods, Katherine Coville gives her version of the well-known story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

But in her version, there weren’t just three bears, there were many. And the cottage wasn’t really a cottage. It was a mansion. Goldilocks didn’t run away, she stayed with the bear family.

In this book, mystery and intrigue surrounds the Cottage in the Woods. Miss Brown is the newly arrived governess for Teddy, the little cub of the prominent Vaughn family. As she tries to get her bearings in the big house, she discovers her precious locket has been stolen from her room. She knows someone has been in her room, but she cannot discover who it was – especially because the Magic Mirror is so tiresome.

Adding to the mysteries in the house are the bold actions of the Anthropological Society in town. Its members are determined to silence the enchanted beasts, including Miss Brown and the Vaughns.

Meanwhile, the interesting Mr. Bentley has caught Miss Brown’s attention; she has attracted the attention of Reverend Wright, Reverend Snover’s new helper in the parish. All while she must deal with Nurse, the old badger who, well, badgers and bullies Miss Brown in her new position.

Plots and subplots abound, with clever references to a myriad of other fairy tales. Katherine Kellgren, who beautifully reads one of my favorite series, The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, brings plenty of life and drama to the audio book. At first I felt her reading was a bit too dramatic, but it grew on me.

Highly recommended for ages 10 and up.

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