Tag Archives: The Sisters Grimm

The Inside Story, Michael Buckley

The Inside Story, Michael BuckleyThe Inside Story by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

First Published: 2010
Pages: 266 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #8

Rating: 3/53/53/53/53/5

 

Sabrina and Daphne Grimm have studied hundreds of fairy tales as part of the family business, but they never thought they’d actually be in one. And yet that’s exactly what happens when they follow the diabolical Master into the Book of Everafter, a mysterious tome in which copies of the world’s fairy tales live out their stories over and over again. The Grimm’s must track down the Master while avoiding the book’s tyrannical Editor, who is devoted to keeping the stories on track. In the Book of Everafter, stories can be rewritten, which is why Sabrina and Daphne must find the Master before he can alter his fate – and the fate of the world.

The penultimate book in the series, The Inside Story, is a massive departure from the previous instalments. The now-formulaic ‘Fairy Tale Detective’ plot-line that’s been gradually phased out in the last two books is now put completely aside in favour of pure action-adventure. But also put aside is the ‘fairy tale characters living in the modern world’ concept, which is probably the bit I enjoy most about this series. The Inside Story sees Daphne and Sabrina leaving Ferryport Landing and jumping into the master-book of fairytales where they have to race through each story, in pursuit of the villainous ‘Master’, before he changes his own story forever and gives himself ultimate powers. Meanwhile ‘the Editor’ is pursuing them all for interfering with his stories and insisting they put things back the way they were. It’s all very meta and it does sound like a fun concept. But the execution left me feeling kind of flat. Continue reading

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The Everafter War, Michael Buckley

The Everafter War, Michael BuckleyThe Everafter War by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

First Published: 2009
Pages: 306 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #7

Rating: 4/54/54/54/54/5

After two years trapped in enchanted sleep, Daphne and Sabrina’s parents are finally free. Unfortunately, they’ve awoken to chaos in Ferryport Landing. Prince Charming and his band of rebels are in hiding, plotting war against the Master and his henchmen. At first Sabrina is glad to have her family back. But after taking care of herself and Daphne for so long, she has forgotten how different – and challenging – life with parents can be. Meanwhile, the Master has dark plans for the Grimms. Finally, the family will come face-to-face with their tormentor, and a betrayal sp deep that it will change their world forever.

Whilst the Sisters Grimm series still suffers from all the problems I went into a little in my last review – mainly inconsistent pacing, tone, and writing – I liked this book a lot more than Tales From the Hood. Finally, finally, the ‘mystery’ formula is dropped to allow the overarching plot takes centre stage and the villain’s start acting like the competent bad guys they appeared in the alternative future of Magic and other Misdemeanours and not the bumblingly ineffective bunch of petty villains with patchy motivations they have always appeared in the other books. This is a book that, to be honest, should probably have come a lot sooner in the series, but I am glad that, even if it only happened in book seven, the plot is making some forward movements.

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Tales From the Hood, Michael Buckley

Tales from the Hood, Michael BuckleyTales From the Hood by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

First Published: 2008
Pages: 274 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #6

Rating: 3/53/53/53/53/5

In Ferryport Landing, everyone gets a day in court – even the Big Bad Wolf. Mr, Canis is put on trial for past crimes, and Mayor Heart’s kangaroo court is determined to find him guilty. It’s up to the Grimms to uncover evidence to save their friend, though Sabrina starts to wonder whether they would all be safer with the Wolf in jail. Despite her misgivings, Sabrina and her sister, Daphne, investigate what actually happened in the Big Bad Wolf’s most famous tale – and the real story will shock you!

I’ve given all the previous books in this series four stars but that’s a bit misleading, although I really enjoy them that is despite a lot of issues present throughout the series – but that came to a bit of a head for me in this book. The overarching plot is very drawn out with some of the books (2, 4, and 6 so far) failing to do anything much to advance it, Sabrina’s character development keeps going two step forwards in each book only to be followed by one step back in the next,  and the writing is often a bit clumsy. Buckley’s method of opening each book in medias res with a snippet from the climax before going back a few days to start the story again at the beginning has always bothered me. Rather than adding to anticipation or tension, I find it detracts from it and tends to make the climaxes anti-climactic. What I have given the previous books four stars for is primarily good ideas and ‘fun factor’ over their actual execution. This book had those good ideas, but I didn’t find it anywhere near so fun.

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Magic and other Misdemeanors, Michael Buckley

Magic and Other Misdemeanors, Michael BuckleyMagic and Other Misdemeanors by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

First Published: 2007
Pages: 282 (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #5

Rating: 4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it4/5 = I really liked it

In their latest adventure, intrepid fairy-tale detectives Sabrina and Daphne Grimm investigate a rash of magical thefts that might add up to a very grim future for their family, who are not so popular in Ferryport Landing these days. With Granny Relda desperately scrambling to pay Mayor Heart’s outrageous taxes on humans, the Sisters Grimm tackle their first solo case – with a little help from the troublemaker Puck, of course. Meanwhile their old friend Mr. Canis seems to be losing his grip on his human self, becoming more like the Big Bad Wolf every day. Can Sabrina and Daphne solve the crime and change their family’s future for the better?

After their trip to New York, the Sisters Grimm are back in Ferryport Landing for their best adventure yet. Magic items have been stolen from three of Ferryport’s most powerful witches and tears in the fabric of time have started opening up in town, letting through dinosaurs, American civil war soldiers, and providing the sisters with a rather grim glimpse into their possible futures where dragons roam the skies and the Scarlet Hand rules Fairyport.

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The Problem Child, Michael Buckley

The Problem Child, Michael Buckley The Problem Child by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

First Published: 2006
Pages: 292 (Hardback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #3

Rating:

For Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, the latest in a long line of fairy-tale detectives, there is one mystery they want to solve more than any other.

Who kidnapped their parents over a year ago?

Sabrina enters the hideout of the Scarlet Hand, the sinister group of Everafters who are keeping her parents prisoner. She has a chance to rescue her mom and dad but is foiled by the most famous fairytale character in the world.

How can a human child defeat a magic one?

With the help of her little sister (who might be tougher than Sabrina realizes) and a long-lost relative, Sabrina finds a powerful weapon for fighting her enemies, and discovers that magic has a high price.

The library finally got it in for me! And I think it might just be the best in the series so far – though not without a lot of problems. The major one being that the author really can’t do a natural sounding recap for shit. So after the big cliffhanger the last book ended on, we get a first chapter of what should be an exciting action/revelation scene being awkwardly interrupted for massive infodumps to tell us everything that has led up to this point – and not even particularly accurately. Two mysteries solved does not equal ‘as they solved one mystery after another, the girls had started to discover a disturbing pattern‘ except in the most strict technical sense. As a result of this ‘stop and explain everything’ approach, the flow of the early portions of the book feels very disjointed and it’s a while before the writing finally finds its feet. It’s practically an advert for why some series are much better off sticking a ‘the story so far’ page in before you get to the prologue. But once those pacing issues are ironed out, the ‘standalone’ plot for this novel is much more interesting than the last entry in the series.

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The Unusual Suspects, Michael Buckley

The Unusual Suspects, Michael BuckleyThe Unusual Suspects by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 290 plus afterword (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #2

Rating:

For Sabrina Grimm, living in a community of fairy-tale characters means always being ready for trouble. And something is definitely wrong at her new school. The adults seem too angry, the kids seem too sleepy, and the gym teacher likes dodgeball way too much. Of course, her little sister, Daphne, is having the time of her life. (Who wouldn’t with Snow White for a teacher – she’s so good with little people!) But when Sabrina’s teacher, Mr. Grumpner, is found dangling in a giant spider’s web, even Daphne’s convinced Ferryport Landing Elementary has a monster problem. Can the Sisters Grimm solve the crime?

So, after reading a few stories in a row that didn’t quite ‘click’ with me I thought I’d pick up something nice, easy, and fun – and this proved to be exactly what I needed. Without spoiling the first book too much, The Sisters Grimm is a fractured fairy tale/fairy tale mash-up series following the adventures of  Sabrina and Daphne Grimm as they solve fairy-tale crime and try to track down their abducted parents. If I’m honest, it’s not the best-written of series so far, but it’s very fun, the ideas are good, and as a sucker for reimagined fairy tales I’m kinda moving towards loving it. Enough that I’ve already put in a library reservation for the next book anyway.

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The Fairy-Tale Detectives, Michael Buckley

The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley
Illustrated by  Peter Ferguson

Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 284 plus afterword (Paperback)
Form: Novel
Series: The Sisters Grimm #1

Rating:

For Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, life hasn’t always been a fairy tale. After the mysterious disappearance of their parents, the sisters are sent to live with their grandmother – a woman they believed was dead! Granny Relda reveals that the girls have two famous ancestors, the Brothers Grimm, whose classic book of fairy tales is actually a collection of case files of magical mischief. Now the girls must take on the family responsibility of being fairy tale detectives. Their first case? A roller-coaster ride of an adventure to stop a giant from destroying their new hometown.

And a high 4 stars (yeah, that rating system is definitely getting a haul-over in January). I really enjoyed this book. It’s not perfect by any means and a lot of it felt quite predictable but it’s aimed at younger children than most of the books I’ve been reading this year and it’s got a nice cosy childhood feel to it. It’s also in a genre I tend to like – fairy tale mash-ups. It seems you can’t escape them at the moment what with Once Upon a Time (started strong, got too boring to watch a few episodes in) and Grimm (started dull, got stronger as the series went on) as well as the flood of mediocre Snow White and Red Riding Hood films in recent years trying to be the next ‘big thing’. People seem to have cottoned on that they don’t have to pay copyright charges on fairy tales and are milking it for what it’s worth.

For me though my affection for the genre started when I was very small with Each Peach Pear Plum – a classic of the ‘read aloud to your baby’ picture books – and The Jolly Postman and The Jolly Christmas Postman – a brilliant interactive pop-up series for young readers that I honestly cannot recommend highly enough for people with young kids. Of course there’s the retellings – Revolting Rhymes and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs were practically required reading in primary school and they’re both great – but for me it’s always been about the shared-world thing where characters from different and sometimes very disparate fairy tales live alongside and interact with  each other. Jasper Fforde does a similar thing for and adult audience with his Nursery Crime series and uses out-of-copyright literary characters for the same purpose in his Thursday Next series (both brilliant – Thursday Next more so than Nursery Crime). And anyone who’s been reading my blog/following me on  goodreads for any length of time knows I’m totally hooked on Bill Willingham’s Fables series which transports fairy tale characters to modern-day New York. So…how does Michael Buckley’s work compare? And is that even a fair question? Continue reading

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