Grim Lovelies re-imagines modern day Paris as a world full of witches, goblins, and of course, magic. One such witch, Mada Vittora has defied the laws of nature by turning animals into her human servants; creations called “Beasties”. Though the Mada can be cruel, she dotes on her youngest servant, Anouk. Thus, when her mistress is brutally murdered, Anouk is shocked and distraught. Especially once she discovers that the death of her creator means that she will turn back into her animal form in three days, unless another witch re-casts the spell. Thus Anouk and her Beastie friends begin a race against the clock to save their human lives. Along the way, the group comes to learn that Mada Vittora has kept many secrets from them, and that they may be far more powerful than they realised.
I received this book a couple of months ago, but for some reason, I didn’t get around to reading it until quite recently. Perhaps it was because I don’t generally enjoy city settings (I prefer lush forest settings with lots of detailed nature descriptions), or maybe because the book’s cover looks quite dark and gloomy and didn’t particularly appeal to me. Once I finally begun Grim Lovelies though, I enjoyed it immediately. Here are some of my favourite things about the book:
- Our heroine, Anouk, is a total sweetheart who sees the good in everyone. She starts out as a naive, and perhaps even meek, character, but through out the book she really comes into her own. Yet, while she grows in strength and confidence, she doesn’t lose her innate goodness.
- The magical system / class hierarchy is really cool and unique. Basically, there are four different groups; Royals and witches (who are the strongest and are in control of the Paris magical society, known as the “Haute”), and the oppressed Goblins and Beasties. Reading about the different groups and their abilities was very interesting. I’m not sure how much Shepherd came up with herself, and how much was based on folklore, but it felt very creative. Plus, witches are pretty much my literary weakness. I’ll read just about anything if witches, good or evil, are involved.
- There was some diversity, though not necessarily a lot. We see what may be the start of a m/m romance and there’s also a really great trans character. Anouk also recounts a cute fairytale in which a prince finds happiness by using magic to turn into a princess.
There wasn’t a lot I disliked about the book, but I will say that Anouk’s love interest, Beau, was boring AF. I know that most books have some sort of romance component, but I hare when the romance feels obligatory. Like the author threw in a love interest just to make the book appeal to a wider audience. Beau was a very two dimensional character and he had no real personality or motivation outside of his desire to protect Anouk. And his over-protectiveness to me, felt a lot more brotherly and condescending than romantic. Personally I’m hoping Anouk ditches vanilla Beau and ends up with the dashing, yet villainous, Prince Rennar. Hate to love romance storylines are admittedly quite cliche, but I much prefer them to a boring love interest.
Ultimately, this was a really fun book, and I’ll definitely read the sequel, but I can’t see it becoming a favourite.