I'm seeing a lot of "I'M SO DISAPPOINTED" reviews for this, and even "UGH GROSS I HATE THIS." That's fine. That's a valid opinion.
I loved this. Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. You know what else? I love that song (really uncomfortable with the video, though).
I'll just wait here while the majority of you close this review and unfollow me for being uncool and basic and whatever else you want to throw in there.
Hey, so for all of you that continued reading, here's my review!
First of all, I'm noticing a lot of recent reviews comparing this to Gaiman's The Sleeper and the Spindle, which I reviewed here. It's not a fair comparison for several reasons.
Many negative comparisons of Hansel and Gretel have to do with the synchronicity of the art and the text. It's clear that Gaiman and Riddell work really well together (Riddell also did the UK illustrations for Fortunately, the Milk) and so everything just ... flowed. The dark, dark art by Mattoti for Hansel and Gretel was actually produced to promote a Broadway play, and then paired with Gaiman's story. I actually like this because it's two different interpretations of the same story inside the same book.
Speaking of the art, I think it's really a neat choice for a story like Hansel and Gretel. There is seriously no way that I can think of to make this a "happy story." There's murder, attempted murder, and cannibalism--and those are just the biggies. The only thing they have after being abandoned is each other (corny, but true). Their parents want to kill them. This witch wants to eat them. I mean, for H & G, life sucks. So it's entirely appropriate that the art is basically a swirling wash of black with details picked out in white.
Gaiman's text sticks quite closely to the original Grimm tale, and I especially liked that he kept the mother as the children's natural mother and not the later change to a stepmother. That part has always added an extra creep factor for me. Of course, he does his little literary flourishes and that makes me happy.
This is a really nice retelling to have in your collection, if you work at a library. It provides a welcome counterpoint to all of the lavishly-illustrated retellings, or the creepy ones done by Trina Schart Hyman (I just can't with her art. Sorry!).