Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd
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.
Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd
Series: Grim Lovelies
Published Oct 2nd 2018 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy / Dark Fantasy
Hardcover, 384 pages
Source: ARC from NetGalley
My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd is the first book in the young adult fantasy Grim Lovelies series. It is set in an opulent and darkly enchanted Paris where Royals, witches, and "Beasties" are caught up in an intricate battle for power. There is murder, mayhem, plus a touch of romance as Anouk and four other beasties must race against the clock to solve a murder before the spell keeping them human fades away and these enchanted creatures return to their original form forever.
Enchanted Creatures — Twists on Fairy Tales
I've been a fan of Shepherd since her young adult series, The Madman's Daughter and her middle-grade title, The Secret Horses of Briar Hill. I was immediately excited to read Grim Lovelies as soon as I discovered the book was about a young girl named Anouk, who is spelled by an evil witch from animal form to a human in order to be little more than a servant.
What a unique twist to the traditional fairy tale where it is the enchanted animals who have the most to lose, the very human essence they have been cast into.
Murder, Mayhem, Goblins and Secret Societies
The story is about Anouk, and four other friends who have also been spelled into beasties and find themselves in dire circumstances when their witch is murdered and the clock begins its countdown. They have only three days to find the killer before they lose their humanness.
The setting is vivid and feels almost old-word as Megan Shepherd weaves in a modern-day Paris, one that is glittery and opulent, hiding a darkness underneath where an underground magical society known as the Haute, threatens Anouk and her fellow Beasties. Dark witches, Royals, and Goblins all make an appearance!
Magical Pelts, A Clock Ticking Down, Spells and Romance
As the race for a spell to keep their humanness and uncover the identity of the murder ensues, Grim Lovelies takes readers across an underground Paris, glittering parties, scrumptious boutiques and mixes it all with spells of enchantment and danger. This was by far, my favorite part of the story.
I loved the premise but didn’t feel a “spark” with the characters
The main problem I had with the story is I just never connected to the characters. Although, I did love the whole idea of animals being enchanted into humans, and the race that filled the story with delicious danger and action, the relationship between Anouk and the other Beasties never made an emotional impact on me.
In the story, Anouk has only been recently made human and so she comes across in her dialogue very much younger than I expected. Everything is well written but there just wasn’t any real “spark” or compelling connection I felt between the characters. The same goes for the romance. In fact, I was rooting for the wrong person it seems.
In the End
“Dorma, dorma, sonora precimo.”
Midnight had come at last. The ending definitely ends on a cliffhanger guaranteeing invested readers will want to know what happens next. The unique concept of flipping this fairy tale from the "Beastie's" viewpoint is definitely a compelling one, and even though I didn't love this book, I'm excited to see where Megan goes with it from here. The story felt like a stepping stone to something bigger building and it just may be one of those series that just gets better as it continues on. This has lots of potential and I'm keeping my eye on future sequels.