Ask a Bookseller: The gothic horror retelling of a Grimm tale

Even in the Brothers Grimm stories we read to children, the horror genre isn’t a far stretch. There are dark woods and child-eating witches, cruel parents and wild transformations.

Acclaimed author Ava Reid has delved into one of the Grimm brothers’ darker stories, “The Juniper Tree,” turning it into a gothic horror novel. The resulting “Juniper & Thorn” is a favorite of Hannah Peterson of the Inquiring Mind Bookstore & Café in Saugerties, New York. 

It follows the story of Marlinchen, the youngest sister in a family of witches —grown women who live with their tyrannical wizard father. One night, Marlinchen’s sisters convince her to sneak out with them to a ballet theater, where the young woman falls in love with a dancer.

But as their love story begins, says Peterson, things take a dark turn. There’s a monster afoot who might be eating people. Marlinchen starts to learn things about herself and her family that are difficult to reconcile. 

“A lot of it's an allegory for trauma, and processing trauma through the genre of horror. I think it's just such an incredible retelling,” says Peterson. She thinks there’s a bit of something for everybody in this book, but if you can’t stand horror of any kind, Peterson recommends you skip this one. “It’s pretty intense,” she says.  

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