Sarah's Reviews > The Grimm Legacy

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman
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's review
Jul 07, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fairy-tales, ya

Elizabeth Rew's story starts out like a variation of 'Cinderella' but takes an adventurous and unique turn when she begins working at New York city's Circulating Materials Repository. People borrow objects with historical and magical significance. Imagine being able to borrow Snow White's evil stepmother's mirror or her iron shoes, which were her final and fatal last possession.

I enjoyed the references - some easily recognizable, others obscure - to objects in many of the 211 fairy tales collected by the Grimm brothers in the 1800s. They are key objects in the story about a girl trying to find her way (literally) to a sense of belonging. Elizabeth is on a hero's journey, learning about friendship and trust, what is worth giving up and worth saving, and foiling an evil plot to steal magical items from the Repository.

I liked so many aspects of this book, most of which is that although the main characters are teenagers and younger this story was better than your average YA novel. The dialog was quick-paced, there was a lot of action (vs. internal dialog and teenage angst), the plot was twisty, the adult characters had individual voices and distinguishing character traits, and the writing was very polished. On this last note, I really admire Ms. Shulman for the colorful descriptions, smart plot and imaginative magical elements. Just because this is a YA novel, it doesn't mean the writing style has to be dumbed down. It was just the opposite here and it was very enjoyable to read this story.

The climax of the story was original and satisfying, and at one point I felt the influence of Neil Gaiman in the other-world conclusion to the evil character behind the stolen objects. Maybe that was just my imagination running overtime, but it's intended to be a compliment to the author's skill and talent.

So, my recommendation is to sit back and enjoy a ride as smooth as a magic carpet through this YA novel.

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