When readers were brought Into the Woods by this fantastic author and illustrator, they were first introduced to the three Eden sisters; a psychotic doctor; a pack of wolves; and, a magical pipe. As readers are brought Out of the Woods by the same magical literary pair, they will witness a strange carnival that plays home to a witch who will stop at nothing to find the artifact that will make her the most powerful person in the world; not to mention a heart that will give her the enchanting beauty she knows she deserves.
We begin with Kit. Kit is an orphan who is working on a fishing boat. He left his home and has been apprenticing for the Captain, trying with all his might to find his fortune so that he may go back home and marry the most beautiful girl in the world - Aurora Eden. As they are about to dock, the Captain gets a strange feeling inside him, letting him know that he must cast his net one last time in order to catch a huge fish to give to the young man as thanks for a job well done. What the Captain doesn't know, is that on the bottom of the ocean his prize has just swallowed the magic pipe - a pipe that is literally calling out to every living creature to retrieve it from the water and deliver it back to its' rightful owner - Storm Eden.
Storm, Aurora, and their youngest sister, Any, live in the small village with hardly a dime to their name. Aurora's beautiful face is constantly covered with worry lines as she stares at the pile of bills the family simply can not pay. Their father - the great explorer Captain Reggie Eden - is no help to his daughters. He lost the love of his life - their mother - and hasn't been able to recover. The only thing the famed explorer does know how to do is neglect his girls and journey to the far reaches of the earth to find the legendary four-tongued, three-footed, two-headed honey dragon. Early in the story, as his girls beg him to get a real job to help them survive, he runs away - leaving his poor, half-orphaned children behind with nothing.
Storm is beyond angry with her father. She spends most of her time at her mother's grave, standing beside the beautiful silver birch tree that grew up overnight. She takes her mother truffles and leaves them by the tree where they disappear by morning, offering hope to Storm that her dearly departed mother is really not that far away. The day her father disappears, Storm finds a flyer outside his door announcing an astonishing Fun-Fair that offers 'free rides and candy-floss for almost-orphans and those of exceptional beauty.' Storm is so excited that she races through the dark forest to see this wondrous carnival. While there, she meets up with a woman who is lovely, but odd at the same time. Her words are sweet, but there is a coldness to her tone that Storm finds very frightening. Nevertheless, she takes the free tickets that the woman gives her, runs back through the woods, and literally begs her older, responsible sister to take a break from straightening the linen closet to have a little fun.
At once, readers are on a roller-coaster ride of sheer fun and entertainment. The lovely woman with the free tickets is really Belladonna - a witch whose twin sibling has died. Since twin witch siblings share one heart, Belladonna is quickly shriveling up into an old crone, as the heart inside her chest dies. The only thing that can possibly save her is for the "fairest in the land" to give the evil witch her heart - only then will Belladonna thrive. So to dupe the young Eden women, Belladonna uses her magic mirror to alter her looks so she is young and beautiful, and inserts herself into the sisters' lives by telling them that she is their new stepmother. It has to work because Belladonna is short on time; she must claim Aurora's heart and find the magic pipe that she knows will make her the most powerful being in the world before her clock runs out.
There are no bad or boring parts to this book. The sisters are outstanding; the fight for Aurora's heart and eternal beauty is a wild ride; and, Storm trying to take the pipe back to the Underworld to its original owner - Pandora - is exciting. Readers are introduced to Zeus - a vegetarian lion (who is the new must-have pet as far as I'm concerned); and, we even get to sit a spell inside Granny Ridinghood's house while Aurora bakes her way to freedom. Ghost trains, dragons, a silver hare that watches out for the sisters - every page is an adventure. Moms, kids - the whole family - will enjoy every word that this marvelous author put on paper, not to mention the great pictures that the illustrator created. If I had a magic pipe, one of my wishes would be to have this literary duo write at least one of these great books every month and mail them to my house immediately. Enjoy!
Amy Lignor, Reviewer for [...]