Elizabeth has just started working as a page at the New York Circulating Material Repository - a lending library of objects, contemporary and historical, common and obscure. And secret, too - for in the repository's basement lies the Grimm Collection, a room of magical items straight from the Grimm Brother's fairy tales. But the magic mirrors and seven-league boots and other items are starting to disappear. And before she knows it, she and her fellow pages - handsome Marc, perfect Anjali, and brooding Aaron - are suddenly caught up in an exciting, and dangerous, magical adventure.
©2010 Polly Shulman (P)2012 Penguin
The story had a rushed feel at the beginning, but once it settled into a rhythm, it turned out to be a fun adventure. The characters were well-developed. The author played a bit with cultural stereotypes, but in a way that superseded the stereotypes she employed. She also has a strong understanding of cultural myth and fairy tales. Grimm Legacy, contrary to the subject matter, was not overly childish. It was innocent and light-hearted with lots of hints of darkness, perfect for a parent of a tween or teen who wants a smart, sophisticated story without the story relying on sex, drugs or foul language. I would have given the story five stars, but the beginning with the charitable young girl imagery was a bit too sweetly simplistic for me. I'm just glad I kept listening because very little of the remainder of the story used trite cultural imagery as character development. I work with teens and have found that anything that hints at simplistic is the kiss of death. Really enjoyed the story, it was well-worth a credit.
The Grimm Legacy is a great book for readers who are past the Gregor the Overlander books but not quite ready for the male-female relationships in todays YA novels. It is sweet and fantastical. There is some mystery and lots of magic. My tween daughter has set many books aside because of disgusting things like...Kissing--"YUCK!" (a direct quote for which I am eternally grateful~) This is a bit more mature than the Fabelhaven series but just as imaginative. It is a wonderful flight of fancy with lots of fun dialog and humor, and only minor kissing that will elicit a giggle or two and not hinder the sensibilites of tweens who still think the opposite sex has cooties!!
I am not the target audience and probably would not have chosen this book if not for my daughter...which would have been my loss. I enjoyed The Grimm Legacy and cringed at the Kissing for completely different reasons than my daughter, dreading the day that my daughter enjoys those parts...sigh~
Nothing I love more than a well-rounded character and intense plot.
The Grimm Legacy is a well-paced fantastical adventure novel set in modern day New York City. It is appropriate for all ages, though aimed at the 8-14 set.
Julie Whelan does a nice job narrating all the different characters - she doesn't fall out of voice, each piece of dialogue is very distinct. Her younger characters are a little shrill, and I had trouble believing her three-year-old, but that's to be expected and I'm sure it would've been incredibly annoying had she actually gone after a real three-year-old's timbre.
The idea of magical items being stored in a circulating repository is an original one. The trust that adults place in teenagers is great - it's such a positive book. It has its moments that are meant to be scary, but overall it's gentle, and of course, all the good guys win. I would have liked to see a little more conflict in getting rid of the bad guys, but it went over all right. The exploration of how magic fits into the mundane world was also excellent - as was the idea that magic items are almost never as safe as you think they are.
A fun YA Contemporary Fantasy that incorporates Fairy Tales without being a straight forward retelling.
The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman, read by Julia Whelan, published by Random House Audio (2012) / Length: 9 hrs 40 min
This is Book #1 of 3 (so far). All 3 are available on audio.
I've read a lot of modern fairy tale retellings, this isn't strictly one of those. Although Elizabeth's life has elements of Cinderella (she even ends up with a single shoe on at one point), this isn't a Cinderella story. Instead it is a book that asks, "What if the magical objects from fairy tales were real and you could borrow them?"
Elizabeth is a genuinely kind person who wants to do what's right but isn't always sure what that is.
I am marking this with a Diversity tag, even though Elizabeth is white, since Mark is African American and Anjali's Indian (the South Asian kind).
Note: Audible has this categorized has a middle grade, which is incorrect; it is YA.
Elizabeth: Her mother is dead and she is caught in a classic Cinderella situation with a neglectful father, less than loving step-mother, and 2 nasty step-sisters. She is also unpopular at school since she stood up for a girl who was being picked on. Fairy tales are important to her because they were something she shared with her mother. She has a bit of a crush on Mark.
The other 3 pages (i.e library interns) are Mark, a high school basketball champion struggling to juggle his own life & heavy family responsibilities; Anjali, who is hiding her relationship with Mark since she is sure her traditional parents would object to her dating a non-Indian; and Aaron, who has a crush on Anjali.
Note: I didn't like Anjali's younger sister Jaya (probably because I have many formerly annoying younger siblings myself) but did really like Mark's baby brother Andre. This actually was predictive of the fact that I didn't like Book #2 which featured Jaya, but did really like #3 with Andre.
The book takes place in our world, except that fictional items can be real. The Grimm Legacy isn't the only "special collection" at the Repository. The Wells Bequest of Science Fiction items (which is the focus of the next book) is briefly introduced, as are a couple of others.
I was disturbed by the fact that they are still allowing people to promise things like their first born child. I know that this is fairy tales in modern time, but surely that's going too far.
Starts with the classic fairy tale episode of encountering a strange and needy old woman in the woods, but transposed to NYC.
Although there are more books in this series, there is no cliffhanger despite a few unresolved issues.
HIGHLIGHTS / CAUTIONS:
--Elizabeth meets Mark's mini-me little brother Andre, who adorably pronounces her name "Libbet" (the only nickname she doesn't object to).
--The magic carpet ride to the Cloisters.
I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: The too typical situation where the main characters throw themselves into danger without any consideration, allow themselves to be manipulated by an obviously evil person, and refuse to consult the wise adults in their lives.
Character voices differentiated = yes, does a really good little kid voice / Opposite sex voices acceptable = yes / Accents good = yes (reels off a bunch of German that sounded good to me) / Phrasing, Pacing & Pronunciation = Good / Emoting = Good / Speed = listened on 1.25, my usual
I didn't really know what to expect when I started this book , but being a fan of anything Grimm I had to give it a listen. By the time I was finished, I was pretty impressed with all the magic and fairy tale references that were used. I would have liked the plot to be a little more complicated, but it was still a really fun listen. This would be perfect for early teens or anyone who loves Grimm.
I read lots of YA books. It seemed that this one had a very interesting premise, but that it took a long time to lay the foundation. Once the foundation was laid, it was a great story! I think middle grade readers will really enjoy it.
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