Nutcracker and Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffman 3 STARSThis is the original Nutcracker story. Hoffman's tone is perfect: the mice are extremely sinister and creepy, and the build-up of suspense was well-done. However, the language drags at points, and it takes most of the story to reach the climatic moment. After the climatic fight, everything afterwards seems trite.The Tale of the Nutcracker by Alexandre Dumas 3.5 STARSDumas's story is more readable than Hoffman's; the language loses Hoffman's magic, and becomes very matter-of-fact. (But that might be the translation.) Dumas frames the story around a man (probably Dumas himself) coming to a party and being forced to entertain a bunch of rowdy children. Maybe that is why Marie is less of an emotional basketcase than in Hoffman's. And Dumas goes much further into the backstory of the Marie's mysterious inventor-godfather.