Series: Grim Lovelies #1
Written by: Megan Shepherd
Published: October 2, 2018 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: 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 received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at ALA in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***
I was really excited to read this book immediately after learning that it existed. It has so many things I am looking for in a fantasy read. There is a unique magical system, a Parisian setting, and a dark fantasy feel. I felt like I was going to love this book and I did like it but it was not what I was hoping for.
One thing that I did love about this book was the fantasy elements. I am definitely been in the mood for dark fantasy this fall and I feel like this book did a great job of fitting that bill. It had so many really fantastic magical elements. First you had the Beasties, which were very cool magical creatures. beasts becoming human isn't exactly a new concept in fantasy but I felt like Shepherd did a good job in making them feel unique and different. Plus there were rules and specifics behind them being human which I really appreciated. But the larger magical system in this book was even cooler. I am always looking for a unique magical system and that is absolutely what I found here. There is a magical system with spells that require specific words in a different language along with certain physical requirements. There is also a hierarchy with those inhabit the world. I was definitely fascinated with the world and it was definitely one of the best part of this book.
As far as the setting goes, I do think that is was interesting and a unique setting but it wasn't what I was hoping for. I've desperately wanting to read books with historical Paris as its setting and I thought that was the setting for this book. It was Paris, but it was more of a modern setting. Paris and France as the whole is always a fun and engaging setting but I feel like this book had a hard time establishing that time and place. I wanted Paris to come alive and it just didn't here. There were a few mentions of things like the Eiffel Tower and the lavender fields in Provence but this really could have been anywhere. I wish that it had done a better job in establishing Paris as the backdrop for the story.
I also felt like the plot and pacing of this book didn't quite blow me away in the way I was hoping. Again, it's not that the plot was bad. There was a lot of action and adventure which I totally appreciated, but I think this book just suffered from a little bit from first book syndrome. It was one of those books that took a very long time to set the stage for the plot. There was a ton of exposition in the beginning of the book. Like so much exposition that the synopsis gives away more than half of the book. I thought this was going to be a heist novel but that was really only about the last third of the book and by that point I had lost a little bit of interest. Which is really a shame because that was some of the best parts of the book.
But I think what I liked least about this book was the characters. It's not that the characters were bad, they just didn't feel like they were as complex as they could have been. The main character of Anouk was likable enough but I felt a little bit like she was a Mary Sue. She was just really good at everything including magic and there wasn't really an explanation as to why. I think if there was more of an establishment as to the reason she was so perfect than I would have problem enjoyed her a little bit more. There were also a lot of secondary characters who all kind of blended together in my mind. Like I couldn't tell you the difference between Luc and Beau because they just felt like male Beasties. Which is really problematic because Luc wasn't in most of the book. The one character I did like however was Viggo. I felt like he had fantastic development throughout the book and I wish more of the characters were as complex as he was.
On the whole, Grim Lovelies was an okay read but didn't blow me away in the way I was hoping. It did have a great magical system and a thrilling plot I just wish that the pacing was a little bit better and that the characters had more depth to them.
I give Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd 7.5 out of 10 stars
Have you read Grim Lovelies? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!