Title: Grim Lovelies
Author: Megan Shepherd
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Release date: October 2 2018
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.
Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.
From New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd, Grim Lovelies is an epic and glittering YA fantasy. Prepare to be spellbound by the world of Grim Lovelies, where secrets have been long buried, friends can become enemies, and everything—especially humanity—comes at a price.
I could not put down this book! Whizzed through it in less than 24 hours. What a ride it was! The story reminded me so much of Swan Lake, where the magic system revolving around ‘The Beasties’ involves transforming them back from humans to animals. I cannot deny how beautifully the author writes. The fantastical play in words suit the quirky and magical world she’s portraying. Talk of magic and mythical creatures – and in a setting like Paris! Normally Paris comes across as the city of ‘Love’, but the way Shepherd explores the city – through wishes, dreams, and magic . I guess the themes don’t stray far from love, but the story is much darker than just wishes and dreams.
What stands out most from the story is the atmospheric writing and how immersive it is. Reading the novel gives me major Over The Garden Wall vibes. All this talk of a field of flowers, witchery and magical enchantments, the October air, oversized sweaters and honey-slathered breakfasts. Even hot-chocolates with marshmallows! But that’s all the book had to offer. A sense of atmosphere. The conflict was interesting to start with, but bleak when the author decides to keep dragging the plot. It felt like I was going around in circles. I grew bored of the conflict quickly, and had no care for whether or not the characters were going to succeed. I had such high hopes for the character development in the book too, and while some were met, most weren’t.
Everything just seemed to reach a dead-end halfway through the book. The only reason why I was able to finish the book within 24 hours was cause of the minor characters in the novel. I find Anouk very bland to start with, and though she makes for a fierce heroine, I had no care for what she is to become. There wasn’t enough of her personal roots that stuck to me. She was just introduced as what she was and nothing more. We know that she is ambitious and a dreamer, but we don’t know how she came to become the person she is. We were only given vague hints of her past, which was a bummer because I really wanted to relate with Anouk, but I couldn’t. Could this possibly mean that we’re getting a sequel that explores more of Anouk’s past? And possibly the other characters’ too? Hopefully. Otherwise, the book is just like any other fairytale. The story, and especially its characters, still has plenty of room to develop. Nonetheless, it was a great read. I was so engrossed that I lost track of time. Truly the feeling I’d expect to get when reading a fairytale novel. It’s immersive and hypnotic.
Thank you so much HMH Young Readers for sending over an ARC in exchange for an honest review!