Saturday, December 11, 2010

Review: The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

From Inside Jacket: Lonely at her new school, Elizabeth takes a job at the New York Circulating Material Repository, hoping to make new friends as well as some cash. The repository is no ordinary library. It lends out objects rather than books - everything from tea sets and hockey sticks to Marie Antoinette's everyday wig. It's also home to the Grimm Collection, a secret room in the basement. That's where powerful items straight out of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales are locked away: a seven-league boots, a table that produces a feast at the blink of an eye, Snow White's step-mother's sinister mirror that talks in riddles and has a will of its own. When the magical objects start to disappear, Elizabeth and her new friends embark on a dangerous quest to catch the thief before they're accused of the crime themselves - or the thief captures them.  

My Rating: 5 hearts

Thoughts on the Novel: I was first introduced to Polly Shulman’s The Grimm Legacy when someone was giving an ARC of it away with a bunch of other ARCs. I quickly skimmed the accompanying blurb, and figured it sounded pretty interesting. Plus, I loved my fairytales growing up and so, added the novel to my wishlist. Well, I just finished The Grimm Legacy and I loved it!

Right from the start, it was extremely easy to get lost in the pages of The Grimm Legacy. The world that Shulman has created is so realistic and vivid that it’s not hard to imagine the New York Circulating Material Repository, a building that looks like a normal Manhattan brownstone on the outside but is actually much bigger on the inside, having expanded into the neighbouring properties. I especially love the fact that Shulman began each chapter of the book with a Repository object that would be used in the chapter and a call number. Much like Elizabeth then, I felt overwhelmed at first because the call numbers really aid in imagining how vast the Repository’s collection is, but as the book progresses, I too learned how to read the call numbers and so the library started to feel more like a second home. This neat detail to the book just makes you feel as if the Repository does exist! I love my library, but if there’s an actual place like the Repository, feel free to let me know.

The other thing that I really enjoyed about The Grimm Legacy is the cast of characters. They’re all very fleshed out and I love that it’s a multicultural mix since the Repository is located in New York. As much as I liked Elizabeth though and watching her come into her own, my two favourite characters are Marc and Anjali’s siblings, Andre and Jaya. Readers are introduced to Andre when he comes up to Elizabeth while she’s working and tells her he has to go to the bathroom. A three-year-old miniature version of his brother, I couldn’t help laughing as Elizabeth hoped that he wasn’t Marc shrunk by a shrink ray. Plus, Andre calls his brother “butter” and Elizabeth “Libbet,” which I found so cute! Meanwhile, Jaya is that annoying younger sibling, and her interactions with Anjali bring back memories of growing up with my own younger sister. She’s also smart and witty though, which meant that scenes with Jaya were always fun to read.   

Shulman’s writing was absolutely brilliant! For example, she does an amazing job describing the Repository without spending a huge amount of time on minute details about how the Repository would work – the basic details are covered – or slowing down the story. In addition, while there’s references to many fairy tales, some of which I haven’t heard of, Shulman does a good job determining which objects’ back-stories would need to be explained a little more. Speaking of objects, Snow White’s stepmother’s mirror is featured prominently, and I loved that it would only answer questions when addressed in a rhyme. Then when answering back in a rhyme, although the mirror had to speak the truth, it would make the truth as ambiguous as possible and call Elizabeth by variations of her name simply to annoy her!

Despite the hints of threat though, the novel remains a fun and light read that will appeal to tweens, teens and adults alike. Part adventure, part fantasy and part mystery, The Grimm Legacy was released by Putnam Juvenile in July 2010.

Comments About the Cover: Whoever did the cover is a genius! It’s not only gorgeous and super detailed but the colours and design just convey this magical, ominous feeling, which goes perfectly with the book’s catch-phrase of “Borrow the magic … if you dare!”

14 comments:

  1. It's so nice when books are multicultural and have fleshed out characters, eh? That makes the story for me :) Great review!

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  2. This isn't a book l would usually pick up juding by the cover but l actually love the sound of this book. Thank you

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  3. I've had this book on my TBR because the premise sounds right up my alley, but your review is the first I think I've read. You've just increased my motivation ten fold. I can't wait to dive into this book. One of the things I liked about Harry Potter so much is that it felt like Hogwarts and all of the things mentioned really could exist. I'm happy to hear you say the Repository is written in a similarly realistic manner. That really grabs me and creates such magic in a book. Thanks for your review!

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  4. I just adore fairy tales, so this one sounds perfect for me! Glad to hear she does a beautiful job of describing things without bogging the story down with so much information we struggle to wade our way through it all. The characters sound fabulous as well, so it seems like an all around wonderful read!

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  5. Wow, great review! This is a book I need to put on my TBR list! Thanks for the review! I love fairy tales...Have a great day!

    -Lulu

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  6. YAY, Another book who put something about Brothers Grimm inside. I think I need to read the excerpt.

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  7. The cover looks great, I think I might sneak this book a little higher on my wishlist, thanks for bringing it to my attention.It sounds like the kind of book I would love.

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  8. Aw, I love when characters are fleshed out. It gives so much more depth to a book. :) This book sounds absolutely fun and magical! And you're so right about that cover - it's gorgeous! :)

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  9. I love fairytales and this book sounds really good. thanks for the review.

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  10. I love fairy tales that are retold. This book is most definitely going on my TBR pile :]

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  11. Sounds cool and the cover is lovely!

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  12. I hadn't heard about this book until reading your review and interview with the author! It's sounds so cool - almost like she's working out Warehouse 13 (tv show) but as a library! And fairy tales mixed in? This is part of why I love finding new book blogs - it keeps me with a full to-read list! Thanks!

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  13. This book sounds amazing! Ive been looking for a new read and I dont think I can pass it up :)

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  14. Not only does this book have one of the most amazing covers I've yet to come across - but I love fairy tales, especially the Brothers' Grimm! Oooh, I'd love to read this~

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