Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Grim by Christine Johnson Review

Title: Grim
Editor: Christine Johnson
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Short Story collection/Anthology
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Am I the only one who searches out fairy tales? Doesn't matter what time period, or what country. Whatever. I dig fairy tales. They're a serious source of inspiration to me, and even now, at recently turned 24, I read them. And as much as I dig those freshly polished, sanitized Disney versions, they're not the same as the original, dark Grimm tales. The stories passed down through generations, blood-soaked and scary though they are.

I've had my eye on Grim since when it first came out, and when I saw that it was available through my local library, well.. I scratched my itch.

As with every anthology, some of the stories didn't really gel with me, but, on the whole, this collection was an exciting reinterpretation of classic fairy tales, and I enjoyed it. (Another reason I really enjoy short stories is because it provides, more often than not, a wealth of new authors to try out as well.)

Okay, I'll start reviewing each story, and I'll give each one a rating, though the star rating for the whole book is at the top of the review.

The Key by Rachel Hawkins, a retelling of Bluebeard: 3/5. I love Rachel Hawkins as an author, but unfortunately, before now, her short stories have been lackluster to me. However, The Key does the original justice--with a psychic thrown in! Highly creepy and enjoyable, especially the ending.

Figment by Jeri Smith-Ready: 4/5. I'm not sure what fairy tale this was supposed to retell, but regardless, it was a sweet story of friendship, self-acceptance, and success, and what it truly means to have a true friend. It was so cute and adorable, and it made me cry!

The Twelfth Girl by Malinda Lo, a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses: 5/5. Quite possibly one of my favorite stories in the volume. A young woman gets in with a group of exclusive girls at her school, finds love, heartbreak, and the door to another world. Dark, creepy, and seductive, a la Lo's signature. Wonderfully poignant!

The Raven Princess by Jon Skovron: 4/5. Will be looking into this author's work immediately. A man sits in a forest, wanting to save the raven princess, cursed unwittingly by her mother the queen. This story was wonderful; it read like a real fairy tale, and the characters were very sympathetic. Loved the happy ending, but I couldn't tell what fairy tale this was supposed to retell, but regardless. Lovely.

Thinner Than Water by Saundra Mitchell, a retelling of Donkeyskin: 5/5. Yet another contender for my favorite story in this collection. I've never read the original Grimm story, but I loved Mitchell's telling of it, despite the cringe-worthy, dark subject matter. And that ending! I wish I had a whole book of Thinner Than Water. I dig Mitchell. Will be looking into this author's work as soon as possible, as well.

Before The Rose Bloomed, a retelling of The Snow Queen by Ellen Hopkins. 4/5. Hopkins is one of my very favorite contemporary authors. This tale read like a play, and it was highly enjoyable and original, but the format made it a little hard to follow. Still, lyrical and poetic, a testament to true love.

Beast/Beast, by Tessa Gratton, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast: 5/5. Beauty and the Beast, with Beauty not as a stereotypical beauty? I've waited my whole life for that, Belle or no Belle. It was lovely, an homage to one of my very favorite fairy tales, a friendship turning into a bond of love. I cried. I can't wait to read Gratton's United States of Asgard series!

The Brothers Piggett by Julie Kagawa, a retelling of The Three Little Pigs. 4/5. I love Julie Kagawa. I've read almost all of her work, and I've no shame fangirling over her. Percival Piggett has fallen in love with a girl named Maya, and when he sees her kiss another boy, his brothers go to her house in revenge, not knowing that dark forces await retribution.. Wonderful, dark and gory!

Untethered by Sonia Gensler. 5/5. Again, it wasn't quite clear which fairy tale this story retold, I enjoyed it nonetheless. A family, broken by loss, is haunted by the ghost of Claire's sister, and when she visits, the family discovers what it really means to move on. Bittersweet and gentle, and a lasting homage to the power of love in all its forms.

Better by Shaun David Hutchinson, a retelling of the Pied Piper: 4/5. Dark, violent, and frightening, despite being a little confusing, this tale tells the story of Pip, an artificially made human, and her quest to save her only friend. Tender, creepy, and more than a little weird, this story did real justice to the original. Bravo!

Light It Up, by Kimberly Derting, a retelling of Hansel and Gretel: 5/5. Delightfully creepy, paying great homage to the original, just in a different way, Greta and Hansen get ditched out in the woods by their stepmother. Lost, they find a cottage in the woods--and end up nearly paying with their lives for the detour. Loved it!

Sharper Than a Serpent's Tongue, by Christine Johnson, a retelling of Toads and Diamonds: 5/5. A tale of two different and yet equally loving sisters, trapped in a small town with their abusive, alcoholic mother. It was dark and lovely, and more than a little gross and creepy. Lovely! (Hoping this author's work in just as good, as well.)

Real Boy, by Claudia Gray, a retelling of Pinocchio: 5/5. A sweet, gentle, and yet heartbreaking love story between a robot and a human girl on her way to being a scientist, this retelling was so lovely, and swept me away. (Psst--have some tissues near you while you're reading this one!)

Skin Trade, by Maya McEntire: 4/5. I couldn't really tell what fairy tale this was supposed to retell; it was confusing. But regardless, it was dark, creepy, gory and violent, and I enjoyed it. A group of band members take strippers into the night, and end up with more than they bargained for.. Wonderfully creepy and oddly gripping!

Beauty and the Chad, by Sarah Rees Brennan, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast: 5/5. Ah, Sarah Rees Brennan. How I love you so, even more now! A sweet and oddly darling retelling of a classic, Beauty happens upon a Beast's castle (if the Beast happened to be a rude, often prickly frat boy, with a penchant for saying 'dude'.), and falls in love. Sweet, tender, and lovely. Possibly one of my very favorites! More please!

The Pink: A Grimm Story, by Amanda Hocking, 4/5. Again, not sure which fairy tale this went to, but regardless, wonderful. A story told in chapters about a fractured royal family, and a boy full of wishes, I really enjoyed it. It was absolutely wonderful, sweet and tender, and I highly enjoyed the happy ending. So sweet, and am looking forward to more from this author.

Sell Out by Jackson Pearce, a retelling of Snow White: 4/5. Pearce's name is synonymous with fairy tale retellings, and highly enjoyable. Emmett has a talent with kissing corpses, and when a girl's stepmother comes to tell him to botch his job, he leaps for it, wanting a chance to do something else. But upon actually seeing Elise Snow, he glimpses a side of her he's never seen before.. The bottom line: A rich, dark collection of stories inspired by the Brothers Grimm tales, Grim truly has something for everyone--wonderful! Next on deck: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz!

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