Last check-in for the challenge already? Say it ain’t so!
This week, I dove into the world of SISTERS GRIMM with THE FAIRYTALE DETECTIVES by Michael Buckley and Peter Ferguson and SEPTIMUS HEAP with MAGYK by Angie Sage and Mark Zug.
Both offerings were not what I expected. Here’s the good, bad, and ugly of both.
THE FAIRYTALE DETECTIVES:
I sequestered myself during Camp NaNo to ensure no outside influence would affect the development of my fractured fairytale series. I even denied myself the weekly treat of Once Upon a Time and Grimm to the point that my PVR groans at me with disdain. I believe I have distanced myself enough to know how to approach my own work and feel it’s time to read other fairytale redos to see what works and what doesn’t. As this was a Middle Grade challenge, I decided on SISTERS GRIMM over CINDER by Marissa Meyer (but that’s on my TBR list). I wanted to enjoy this story more but I couldn’t do it. There are two protags in this one. Sisters Sabrina (aged eleven) and Daphne (aged seven). I suppose Daphne’s constant questions seem realistic enough but I don’t think that it gave them licence to just name drop fairy tale character names for the sake of doing so. I can’t begin to compare any fairytale mashup with my own, not to mention the fact that mine is a YA story, however, I’m hoping that readers will understand which characters are unfolding through context, dialogue and other interaction rather than just having a full-on announcement of their arrival in the story. Yikes. I didn’t mean to start with the bad right away.
Switching to good. I enjoyed Daphne, despite her questions. She came off as a genuine seven year-old. I also enjoyed Granny and Mr. Canis. I’m all for quirky supporting cast. I ended up relating to Daphne the most, which is fine as she falls within the MG parameters for a protag.
Now, here’s the ugly. Of course, this is completely subjective coming from the POV of a reader and not a writer. Have I been out of touch with the evolution of MG books? Sure we have precocious adolescents, mischievous, too, however, I was actually put off by the Sabrina character. I’m all for assertive female characters in any genre and age group literature has to offer but Sabrina went from assertive to arrogant to aggressive to downright abrasive faster than you can say Hufflepuff. I didn’t find it working within this category but if someone can direct me to other MG stories with similar characters please contribute to my edification. I’m completely flummoxed with Sabrina and unable to connect or sympathize with her despite the circumstances that most likely turned her into a curmudgeon-in-waiting. Sadly, I’m on the fence of whether or not I’d like to continue with these books. If I do, I’ll be reading a boatload of other stories before coming back to this series and that deserves a frowny face. –> 😦
Deep cleansing breaths.
I disliked this story less. How’s that for starters?! The worldbuilding was a little smoother to digest. Good. There were heavy doses of infodumping in the “As you know…” sort of way. Bad. There were chunks of pedestrian prose but nothing to the point of making me hurl accusations of UGLY. So, that’s moving back to good, right? Please?
I wanted to like these stories and I know they are well received. Of course, that’s part of the game. It’s all subjective and I need to keep that in mind when it comes time that my books come under the literary microscope.
We still have a handful of days left in the month to keep chugging along. Next up, THE LOST HERO by Rick Riordan and/or THE RED PYRAMID by Rick Riordan. I liked PERCY JACKSON and didn’t mind Riordan’s contribution to THE 39 CLUES #1: MAP OF BONES. For some female protag love, I’ll try INKHEART by Cornelia Funke and/or CORALINE by Neil Gaiman. That should keep me busy for the week amongst other writerly duties.
I’m excited that I got back into reading what I love. Thank you, Deb, for making #middlegrademay a fun ride. I can’t believe I read five books this month. I’m hoping to read at least two more or all of the ones listed in the previous paragraph. Crazier things have happened.
Read on, Lit Lovers!