The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman
Oxford University Press, 2012
In The Grimm Legacy, a lonely high school student, Elizabeth, is chosen by her history teacher to work in the Repository, A library in New York where you can borrow any item you want. And when they say any item they mean it. In the basement of the Repository is the Grimm Collection, a collection of items straight from the Grimm fairy tales– magic mirrors, glass slippers, flying shoes. The items are magical and mysterious, some of them are even dangerous, and Elizabeth soon learns that someone has been stealing items from the Repository. Together, she must join up with her new friends to find the culprit, before someone blames them.
This book reminds me of:
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
What I liked best about this book:
- I honestly didn’t know who was behind the thefts! I don’t read a lot of mystery books, but I watch a lot of NCIS and other crime shows, so I’m usually pretty good at figuring out ‘who dun it’. I was expecting a bit of predictability because it’s a children’s book, but I’m happy to say I was wrong!
- I also really liked the entire idea behind the book. A library full of objects? Including magical ones? Who wouldn’t want to work there? I know I do. I really liked the use of magical items, and the twist on familiar fairy tales.
- The characters and their relationships were all adorable.
What I didn’t like about this book:
This isn’t specific to just this book, but I’m still a bit frustrated by all of the female characters in existence that have the classic all-the-other-girls-are-prettier-than-me-itis. It’s nice to have modest characters, but sometimes I just wish they would acknowledge something attractive in themselves from the get go. As Elizabeth is a high schooler she’s going to have insecurities, but I think it’d set a really good example for young girls if they read about a character who thought something positive about themselves. Like Elizabeth could realize how clever she is. She’s actually a really confident and strong character. She speaks her mind and doesn’t let adults influence her negatively, which is pretty impressive.
I don’t know, it’s just something that bothers me about YA fiction. There’s always ‘the pretty one’ and ‘the main character’ or ‘the main character who is the pretty one but is completely oblivious’. Does every YA book have to be a literary version of ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ by One Direction? I hope not. You don’t see Harry Potter spending 7 books thinking ‘Gee, I wish I was good looking at Ron/Cedric/Dean/Seamus/any other male character’. Or maybe I missed that part in it.
Okay, I got off track.
- An enjoyable, quick read.
- I’ll probably read the sequel, which comes out this June and is about time travel!