Sunday, May 19, 2013

Book Review: Once Upon a Crime by Michael Buckley (Sisters Grimm #4)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fast paced story with good character growth and fun creativity
Cons: Prologue set during the climax is a pet peeve
The Bottom Line:
Plenty of action
Sisters Grimm in NYC
Produce a great tale

Faerie and Fairy Tales in New York City

The Sisters Grimm series changes location for their fourth book, Once Upon a Crime.  But that's doesn't mess a bit of loss in creativity or action at all.

This series of kid's books follows the adventures of Daphne and Sabrina Grimm, the last decedents of the original Brothers Grimm.  After their parents disappeared, they went to live with their grandmother in Ferryport, New York.  That's when they discovered their family history and learned that fairy tale characters, called Ever Afters, are real.  Now the girls help their grandmother solve mysteries and problems created by these supposedly mythical creatures.

This book moves the action to New York City.  They family is traveling there to because there are pockets of Ever Afters living there, including the kingdom of Faerie.  Since their good friend Puck has been injured, finding Faerie is their only hope of curing him.

They hardly found Faerie before the king is poisoned.  Now they've got to track down a killer.  But how do you find Ever Afters in a city this big?  Will they find the real killer?

While I didn't quite feel this book was as strong as the previous, it was very close.  The action takes several fun detours, including introducing us to the true pirates of Wall Street.  The plot took several nice twists, most of which were logical and surprising.  While the over the top climax has been done before, I still enjoyed it.  And it was nice to end a book without a cliffhanger, although there are still some very big plot threads waiting to be answers in later books.

I will say I am getting tired of the prologue that teases us with the action to come.  It's never been a favorite story telling technique.  But since we've seen that in all four books so far, I'm sure it will continue for the rest of the series.

I think what I appreciated the most here was the character growth.  Sabrina is our main character, and we continue to watch her grow into accepting the family business here.  She's certainly less defiant and angry than in previous books, which was a nice change.  Daphne continues to grow into a strong character while still providing some great comic relief.

One thing I have loved is the imagination of what the Ever Afters might be doing in modern America, and that continues here with some awesome cameos.  The definition of Ever After gets a little broad with the inclusion of Ebenezer Scrooge, but I found his scene to be the funniest in the series so far.

In many ways, this feels like the conclusion of a three book arc to me.  There's enough background in the first chapter so you could jump in here, but the character growth won't mean as much to you.

So go back and start the series from the beginning.  You'll love every minute along the way and appreciate Once Upon a Crime so much more.

At this point in the series, you are definitely best off reading the Sisters Grimm series in order.

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