The Grimm Legacy is written by Polly Shulman and was published in 2012 by Penguin. Shulman’s website can be found here.
Genre: Realistic Fantasy
“Lonely at her new school, Elizabeth takes a job at the New-York Circulating Material Repository, hoping to make new friends as well as some cash. The repository is no ordinary library. It lends out objects rather than books—everything from tea sets and hockey sticks to Marie Antoinette’s everyday wig.
It’s also home to the Grimm Collection, a secret room in the basement. That’s where powerful items straight out of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales are locked away: seven-league boots, a table that produces a feast at the blink of an eye, Snow White’s stepmother’s sinister mirror that talks in riddles and has a will of its own.
When the magical objects start to disappear, Elizabeth and her new friends embark on a dangerous quest to catch the thief before they’re accused to the crime themselves—or the thief captures them.”
“So this is really a formality, but just to be thorough, do you do the dishes at home?
What kind of question was that? “Yes, most of the time.”
…“About how often?”
“Most days. Five or six times a week, probably.”
“And how many have you broken this year?”
“Yes, dishes, glasses that sort of thing.”
“Oh, we can never be too careful. When was the last time you lost your keys?”
“I never lose my keys.”
“Excellent. All right, sort these, please.” Dr. Rust handed me a box of buttons.
“Sort them? Sort them how?”
“Well, that’s up to you, isn’t it?”
“Anxious and bored, I distracted myself again by strolling around. Something moving behind me caught the corner of my eye. I spun around and froze.
Whatever it was spun and froze too.
To my relief, I saw it was just me—my reflection in a large mirror hanging on the picture rack. Did I really look that haggard and grim?
I made a face at myself. “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” I said.
My own lips moved in the mirror and I heard a voice just like mine answering:
“You have to ask, Eliza Rew?
Then listen up: it isn’t you.”
Warnings: None. Does “we kissed” count?
Recommended Age Range: 12+
What I Liked:
I wish I could work at a Circulating Material Repository. Magical items aside, it seems like a neat place in which to work.
This was a fun book with some cute scenes between Elizabeth and her love interest (name withheld to avoid spoilers). The inside flap makes you think that there’s only Grimm’s objects in the Repository, but that’s actually not the case. Shulman also gives a nod to science fiction in a room dedicated to H. G. Wells (the Wells Bequest), William Gibson (the Gibson Chrestomathy) and H. P. Lovecraft (the Lovecraft Corpus), complete with time machines, shrink rays, and a strange device known as a dereifier.
The plot was mediocre, but the character interactions were good. Shulman avoided the usual clichés and developed the characters well. The dialogue was snappy and well-written; the main character has the sort of dry wit that I love.
What I Didn’t Like:
I felt that a lot of the characters’ actions are not fully explained. When the book ended I found myself thinking, “What about this?” (spoilers?) Why did Aaron accuse Marc of enchanting Elizabeth? Why did Marc act so strangely? Why did it feel like Marc and Anjali were shutting Elizabeth out at times and acting secretive, after all their secrets had come out in the open? (end spoilers) It made me feel conflicted about the characters’ true colors at times. Maybe she’s setting things up for a sequel?
If you enjoy fairy tales or realistic fantasies (fantasies set in the real world), you’ll enjoy this book. The Repository is a fascinating building and the characters’ interactions with it are well done. While some of the characters, I thought, were not fully fleshed out and a lot of things were left up in the air, it was still an enjoyable read.
Coming Up Next: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick