BOOK REVIEW: The Witch of Duva (Novella)

  • Title: The Witch of Duva
  • Author: Leigh Bardugo
  • Published Date: June 6, 2012
  • Publisher: Tor Books
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Pages: 48
  • Rating: 4.8 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Date Read: January 15, 2020
  • Reason for Review: Personal Decision

There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls…or so the story goes. But it’s just possible that the danger may be a little bit closer to home. This story is a companion folk tale to Leigh Bardugo’s debut novel, Shadow and Bone.

You can read this novella for FREE on Tor!

CHARACTERS

Nadya: Nadya is the loving daughter of a great carpenter named Maxim Grushov, and the sister of Havel. She was a loving child and is loyal to her deceased mother. She didn’t want her father to marry again and hated the thought of him wedded to Karina Stoyanova. Nadya was a good character for the novella though there are some times she would manifest personalities while in some, she would act flat.

Karina: Karina was initially described in the story as wicked and mysterious through Nadya’s perspective. She had the personality of the typical witch you could read in fairy tales. However, through the last part of the novella, I did not expect the twist of her character at all. She was far more different.

Maxim: He was the father of Karina and Havel. He was loved in their village and was a good to his children. A great carpenter and woodcutter who was known for his flawless woodworks. He traveled to the countryside, selling his services, and wooden furnitures and toys. He was depicted as the perfect father figure through the first to half part of the story. I have not expected his play in the novella and I liked how there where no unclear details about him yet I’ve failed to see the larger picture.

Magda: Magda was a witch in the woods who took Nadya in. She provided different services to people, from love potions and untraceable poisons to transforming someone into being beautiful, healthy or rich in exchange for goods and foods. However, she laid a bit flat for me as a character. She was only made significant because of what she is and because she was the only one who could get the truth out.

Havel: Havel is Nadya’s brother who went away to train for military service. His character was definitely not needed. But I do acknowledge that his absence made way for Karina to enter the scene.

PLOT/ STORY

A VERY COMPELLING NOVELLA! THIS BOOK HAS TOTALLY DESTROYED MY APPREHENSION INTO DUST! I STILL VIVIDLY REMEMBER HOW THE TWIST TOOK ME OFF-GUARD.

First of all, the story is set in a Ravkan town called Duva. The atmosphere was solidly established and immediately transported my imagination to this gloomy and heavy environment of a place secluded by dark woods.

The world building was done through descriptive storytelling. I could say it was very effective since the presented phenomenon existing in Duva was not yet solved nor proven, so it was morelike an urban legend retold by local elders to the younger ones. I also really liked how the world was progressively described through out the story and how it was interconnected with the introduction of the characters. And oh my, I totally adore the narration because it made me feel like I belong to the people of Duva and like I was there listening to an elder’s storytelling through it all, feeling the same curiosity and fear they felt.

The story was so compelling you will always want to know more about Duva and it’s darkness. I was so into it I didn’t even realize I’ve only had few pages left before The End. And when the revelation came up, dang, it was a total stunner! I couldn’t absorb the fact that the crumbs were there aaaall alooooong. And im’ma tell you, It made me feel dumb. LFMAO.

Leigh Bardugo wrote this story so smoothly and brilliant that I have failed to expect the right expectations. I still can’t get over with how the truth was revealed. I gotta mentioned how the story was closed, it was such a tease and it really made me felt I belong to the story.

Though I must admit there were few things left unexplained by the author such as to what happened with Nadya’s mother, how Karina became widowed, as well as her real identity and her motives, what caused the people of Duva to discover the floorboard when assumingly, it was done by a carpenter known for his seamless works.

Overall, I really like this novella. It was brilliant! It’s also a good introduction to Leigh Bardugo as an author and this work definitely made me want to read all her Grishaverse books.

THEME

This novella is a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, revolving around missing children, scary woods and sweet treats. Though it’s a no brainer that this is a great work of re-telling a fairy tale we used to grow up with, there’s one thing people have usually overlooked in this story. And that thing was the one that kept the whole story moving. Girl Power. Yes, the story subtly represented women empowerment as the three female characters have played big roles on the unveiling of the plot revelation.

The story has also had minor details of sexual harassment and incest that could be a trigger point for some readers. However, it was elusively written that you won’t even notice it until you read closely and analyze some scenes. I personally see these details unnecessary but it definitely shed a faint light on what the missing girls have undergone.

  • Characters: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.5
  • Plot/ Story: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.9
  • Theme: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5.0
  • OVERALL: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.8

This novella is for those who liked fairy tale retelling, as well as to those who wanted to be introduced to Leigh Bardugo. On the other hand, this story subtly tackled sensitive themes such as sexual harassment and incest, so if you’re not comfortable with those topics then this is not for you.

I just wanna clear that this book doesn’t solely focus on issues mentioned above and doesn’t directly talk about them. But if you have experienced such traumatic events, or you will read closely through all the scenes, you will definitely notice the small details.

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