By Megan Shepherd
Published October 2, 2018 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Have you ever wondered about fairytale characters who are turned into animals? Or animals who are turned into people? If you have, Grim Lovelies is the book for you. It’s the story of a group of “beasties,” animals transformed into people who are fighting to stay human.
Our heroine Anouk and her fellow beasties were created by Mada Vittoria, a powerful witch living in Paris. Anouk is the youngest of the beasties, as she’s only been human for a year. She is a house servant for her mistress, and she’s never been allowed to leave the house. She watches Paris from the windows and wonders about the world outside. When Mada Vittoria is murdered, Anouk and the other beasties have only three days to find a spell to keep them human or else they will revert to their animal form.
This is a great setup for a fantasy novel, and there were parts of it I enjoyed. The magic world is an intriguing one, with royals at the top of the food chain and witches just underneath. Then there are the witches’ boys, adopted sons who provide blood for their witch mothers’ spells; goblins, who are treated as second-class citizens; and the beasties, who don’t really fit in anywhere. I loved the goblins. They were hilarious, and their fashion choices sound awesome. (I love that the beasties occasionally mistake humans for goblins because Parisian humans have started dressing like goblins.) The stakes were high for the beasties. Going back to being an animal means losing their memories of being human and the found family they’ve made, and this is particularly hard for Anouk, who’s only just begun to live.
There were some things that I was less into. I didn’t find most of the characters very interesting, and the only one I found intriguing wasn’t in the book very much and came to an unsatisfying end. I wasn’t on board with the romantic aspects either. Anouk has a romantic entanglement with a fellow beastie and another character seems to be romantically interested in her. Since Anouk comes across as very young and innocent, two characters being so attracted to her seemed unrealistic (or a little creepy).
This book skews a little more to the younger side of YA, and I think readers in that age range will really enjoy it.
I received an ARC from Amazon Vine.