The Fairy Tale Detectives (Sisters Grimm)

“Congratulations, you found a leaf in the middle of all these trees,” Charming scoffed. “I bet if you could bring out the forensics team you might find a twig, or even an acorn!”

“It looks a lot like a leaf from a beanstalk,” the old woman replied.

I was interested in Michael Buckley’s Sisters Grimm series way back when the first book The Fairy Tale Detectives came out in 2005, but for one reason or another I forgot all about out until this similar series Jennie posted about reminded me of it.

When their parents disappear, Sabrina and Daphne Grimm are claimed by their grandmother Relda–who they had been told was dead. Granny is an odd creature who cooks with strange ingredients, talks to her house, and pals around with morose Mr. Canis. What’s more, she tells the girls that they are descendants of the Brothers Grimm, those famous…historians? Apparently Ferry Port, NY is where fairy tale characters have been kept in confined society for decades, with the Grimm family as keepers of peace and records. Sabrina isn’t buying any of this, until a giant shows up on the scene and the girls have to discover who summoned him.

I love stories that play around with existing characters, especially fairy tales because there is such a wealth of possibility. Buckley takes full advantage of this by playing with our preconceived notions of the characters. Prince Charming as a self-centered, power-hungry mayor? Check. Pixies that bite? Check. Jack-the giant-killer as a jailbird? Only when he’s not working at the local Big And Tall.

The writing is obviously aimed at a younger audience, but it’s full of wry humor. Buckley clearly is having fun with this. As Sabrina is older the story is from her perspective, though we get to know Daphne as well. Sabrina’s big-sister mentality and almost-twelve skepticism are very realistic; most readers, though closer in age to Daphne, can probably relate to no longer believing in fairy tales.

My biggest complaint is that the beginning of the story felt a bit overdone. Sabrina and Daphne have apparently experienced the worst possible foster homes under the eye of a social security worker who despises them. While this is meant to explain Sabrina’s wariness of Granny it came across to me as a rip-off of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Also I’m not sure how I feel about the inclusion of characters from other works such as The Wizard of Oz and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They’re not really fairy tales, but it allows for more possibilities in later books.

Overall it’s an enjoyable start to the series for younger readers, and I’m surprised it doesn’t seem to have the popularity of other similar books. Perhaps because it’s such an odd niche–the books have a definite mystery bent but might not come across that way.

Published in: on September 24, 2009 at 7:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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