Review Take Two: Grim edited by Christine Johnson

Saturday, January 10, 2015
Title: Grim
Author: Christine Johnson, Ellen Hopkins, Amanda Hocking, Julie Kagawa, Claudia Gray, Rachel Hawkins, Jeri Smith-Ready, Saundra Mitchell, Kimberly Derting, Myra McEntire, Malinda Lo, Sarah Rees Brennan, Jackson Pearce, Sonia Gensler, Tessa Gratton, Jon Skrovon, Shaun David Hutchinson
Series: N/A
Pages: 476
Published: February 2014
Source: publishers via NetGalley

Inspired by classic fairy tales, but with a dark and sinister twist, Grim contains short stories from some of the best voices in young adult literature today.

The Key (Bluebeard) by Rachel Hawkins - 3/5

I really liked this despite some qualms; it was clever and a nice modern twist on Bluebeard. I do wish it had been a bit longer because you don't really have a feel for the characters. (If you want a longer retelling, look at Sarah Cross's Killing Me Softly.)

Figment (Puss in Boots) by Jeri Smith-Ready -3.75/5

I'd never before read a Puss in Boots retelling, but this was good. Loved the fresh applications of the story and how Smith-Ready still carried the same vibe. Possibly one of the most well-written contributions to the entire anthology.

The Twelfth Girl (12 Dancing Princesses) by Malinda Lo - 3.5/5

This was good, bordering on great. Certain aspects worked well (location, diversity) but it was kinda.. flat at times? Very recognizable as a 12 Dancing Princesses but with an added air of creepitude I really enjoyed. Again, a story that would have benefited from a longer length.

The Raven Princess by Jon Skrovon - 2.75/5

A little bit grim at first, but also can feel a bit... treacly? A little... saccharine? The ending was neat, but a bit too pat and easy for an anthology named Grim.

Thinner Than Water (Cat-Skin) by Saundra Mitchell - 5/5

I freaking loved this. It brought all the grit and grimness I had been waiting for. I was unsettled by it (as I am by the Cat/Donkey Skin fairy tale in general) but thought it was GREAT how Mitchell ended it. Melura is a badass character and one I'd like to see in a full-length novel. Just maybe focused on a different fairy tale. It definitely made me curious to seek out Mitchell's novels.

Before the Rose Bloomed (The Snow Queen) by Ellen Hopkins - n/a

Skipped because verse does not work for me outside of poetry.

Beast/Beast (Beauty and the Beast) by Tessa Gratton -3/5

A decent retelling, but again, one sorely lacking the grimness promised. I appreciated Gratton's version of the characters, but didn't overly care about or invest in them.

The Brothers Piggett (The Three Little Pigs) by Julie Kagawa - 4/5

Fun, clever, almost as dark and twisty as I wanted it to be. Kagawa does a The Three Little Pigs a new kind of justice and it is so fun and awesome and GRIM.

Also now I want pie.

Untethered (The Shroud) by Sonia Gensler -2.5/5

This is one I didn't know the original story so it's hard for me to compare and judge in that regard. However, has some good prose and I liked it? I don't have much else to say.

Better (The Pied Piper) by Shaun David Hutchinson - 3/5

uhh.. sure, this is a Pied Piper retelling. If I squint and don't focus too hard. It definitely seems moreso towards the end, but most of this story does not gel with the whole "fairy tale" theme. It was grim yes, but also felt so misplaced here. Also would have been stronger without a romance.

Light It Up (Hansel & Gretel) by Kimberly Derting - 3/5

Decent, but I never really manage connect to Derting's writing or her storytelling methods just don't work for me. Add a shorter length and I was never really gonna go for for this one.

Sharper Than a Serpent's Tongue (Diamonds and Toads) by Christine Johnson - 2/5

I hard a hard time with this? It just didn't connect with me and failed to do anything really new or interesting with the established fairy tale besides using it in a modern setting. (Also Jewels in Killing Me Softly and Tear You Apart is a far more exciting example of a modern version for a Diamonds and Toads retelling.)

A Real Boy (Pinocchio) by Claudia Gray -3.5/5

Surprisingly, I really liked this because of the romance. Buuuut I am running out things to say about it. Well-written, engaging and a pretty good length.

Skin Trade (The Robber Bridegroom) by Moira McEntire - 1/5


Beauty and the Chad (Beauty and the Beast) by Sarah Rees Brennan - 3.5/5

This worked better than it should have? Some parts didn't gel as well as they could, but it was pretty amusing (after all, it is Sarah Rees Brennan). Though, again, not very grim.

The Pink (The Carnation) by Amanda Hocking - 2/5

I've been complaining about length the whole time but The Pink had the opposite issue of most here -- it felt too long. It doesn't help that I've never truly enjoyed a Hocking novel; her style just does not work for me.

Sell Out (Snow White) by Jackson Pearce - 3/5

Decent, but not engrossing the way the better stories have been. It fits in the anthology and Pearce is a good storyteller, but, once again, majorly hampered by the lack of length.

Final thoughts: Grim is a mixed bag and while the theme is only carried by some of the stories, it can be a fun read. It also made me curious to seek out longer stories from Saundra Mitchell because she basically won the anthology. This also just reaffirmed my love for Sarah Rees Brennan. Julie Kagawa also reminded me why sometimes her books and characters can be so much unexpected fun.

A few authors were new to me -- Jon Skrovon, Shaun Hutchinson, and Jeri Smith-Ready. I am definitely interested in reading more from JSR, as well.

Also this is a long anthology made up very short stories. I would definitely sacrifice the large number stories (17!) for more time with the good ones/ones that are on theme. 

5-stars: 1
4-stars: 1
3.75-stars: 1
3.5-stars: 3
3-stars: 5
2.75-stars: 1
2.5-stars: 1
2-stars: 2
1-star: 1
No rating: 1


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