Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: The Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Creativity and main characters
Cons: Story a little slow to get started
The Bottom Line:
Creative series
Lays needed foundation here
Get hooked on the Grimms




The Curse of Being Grimm

Every so often, I read a book and immediately wish I had thought of the premise myself. That was the case with The Fairy Tale Detectives, the first in the Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley. This is inventive fantasy aimed at kids. But it absolutely captured my imagination as well.

In the year and a half since their parents disappeared, Sabrina and Daphne Grimm have bounced around from one foster family to another, all of them horrid. And things aren't looking up. They've just been dropped off with their Granny Relda in the two of Ferrypoint Landing, New York. The problems? Ferrypoint Landing looks like a boring small town. And the girls had grown up believing that their grandmother was dead.

While Daphne quickly attaches herself to her strange new relative, Sabrina is far from willing to give her a chance. Especially when the woman starts telling the girls that they are the decendants of the Brothers Grimm and the stories are real. The case of a supposed giant in the area further irritates Sabrina. Is Granny Relda telling the truth? Is so, how can they stop a giant?

This book suffers from a common first book problem, it takes a little while to truly set up the premise. I honestly don't know how the author could have sped things up with out sacrificing the characters. I will say that once things did get going, I was hooked. It may not be the type of mystery I normally like, but the plot did have a couple nice twists, only one of which I saw coming. And I raced through the ending to find out what would happen.

While narrated third person, the book is told from Sabrina's point of view. That really brings her to life. She is very hard in the beginning and unwilling to consider anything that Granny Relda says is true. She grows the most over the course of the book. Daphne is probably a bit closer to a real child, but both seem older then their supposed ages, 11 and 7. The book is filled with other great characters I can't wait to visit again.

One thing I loved was seeing what happened to famous fairy tale characters. I'm not going to spoil anything, but many of the cameos made me smile or laugh. The creativity shown is absolutely wonderful. And the book doesn't stick with the traditional fairy tales, either. Glenda from Oz and the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland have cameos as well.

Do keep in mind that these are fairy tale characters for a cynical, post modern age. Charming has become the mayor of Ferrypoint Landing, all the time wishing he were a prince again, for example. And he has several ex-wives. This isn't your happily every after fairy tale.

Each chapter features one silhouette of the action as the chapter starts and one detailed pen and ink drawing. The chapters are rather long (25 pages being average). I'd say this series is best suited for late elementary school kids. There are a couple rather intense scenes that might frighten the younger crowd anyway.

The creativity shown in The Fairy Tale Detectives made the book well worth reading. I will be visiting Ferrypoint Landing again soon.

With how the story progresses, you'll want to read the Sisters Grimm Series in order.

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