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Title: What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy
Author: Gregory Maguire
Year Published: 2007
Synopsis: A terrible storm is raging, and ten-year-old Dinah is huddled by candlelight with her brother, sister, and cousin Gage, who is telling a very unusual tale. It’s the story of What-the-Dickens, a newly hatched orphan creature who finds he has an attraction to teeth, a crush on a cat named McCavity, and a penchant for getting into trouble. One day he happens upon a feisty girl skibberee who is working as an Agent of Change — trading coins for teeth — and learns that there is a dutiful tribe of skibbereen (call them tooth fairies) to which he hopes to belong. As his tale of discovery unfolds, however, both What-the- Dickens and Dinah come to see that the world is both richer and less sure than they ever imagined.
Review: Gregory Maguire is most well known for his retelling of the Wicked Witch from Oz's story in Wicked. I read that book many years ago and absolutely loved it. I've since read the sequel and didn't find it as amazing. I unfortunately didn't think this book came close to Wicked either.
I'm not sure what the audience for this book was supposed to be. The writing is excellent and beautiful, but it feels at times like big words are just thrown in for a vocabulary list. The whole story is slow. There wasn't any time while I was reading this when I wasn't able to put down the book. The structure of the story was confusing. The content is appropriate for a 9-year old, but the way it reads is not.
Although there were many things I didn't like about this book, I did like the world Maguire created. His version of tooth fairies were interesting. I just felt the structure of the story wasn't compelling. It was very much meta storytelling. The book had an overall feel of a bedtime story, almost like a parent started on a whim and then had to figure out a story spontaneously.
I give this book a 3/5. If you are looking for fairytale retellings there are better ones out there. If you don't mind a very adult retelling, pick up Maguire's Wicked.