I'm a devoted fan of fairy tales, and this one does not disappoint me. It has a deep, intriguing story line, undeparted from the original plot, polished with simple, yet powerful, prose. I am quite certain that everyone is familiar with the story of Hansel, Gretal, and their visit to the candy cottage. In this amazing retelling, we are priviledged to see the tale from the *witch*'s side, and the torment she suffered through. It is extremely phsycological, yet is not overbearing. The Ugly One, otherwise known as the Witch, is a kind, God-fearing midwife in a small village in medieval Europe. Through her innocence and good heart, she is slowly, unwillingly, lead down a dark path, where she is finally under the power of demons. Yet through it all, her good heart manages to keep her out of trouble. She hides from human contact, fearing the demon presence would become too powerful. That is, until two children become lost in her woods. This is a finely crafted novel about a poor soul who is tortured, and I shall never be able to look at "Hansel and Gretal" the same way ever again. It is beautiful, delightfully creepy, and sprinkled with symbolism. Napoli, as stated at the beginning of the book, researched medieval European culture, spirituality, and superstition before writing this book. While I really wouldn't recommend this for children, it is deeply satisfying for anyone else.