Hello and welcome to the third in my monthly series on fairy tales! This month I want to talk about The Sisters Grimm, a middle grade book series.
Some Background Information
Author: Michael Buckley
Illustrator: Peter Ferguson
Based on: various fairy tales, the Brothers Grimm, Shakespeare and more!
Fairy tale tropes featured: wands, magic artefacts, sleeping curses, true love’s kiss, magic mirrors and so many more!
The Sisters Grimm
The Sisters Grimm is a nine part book series by Michael Buckley about Sabrina and Daphne Grimm. The story opens with the two sisters having run away from their latest in a series of foster homes after their parents mysteriously disappear. Much like a fairy tale, the orphans (for all intents and purposes) are whisked away from New York to live with their long-lost and up until then, thought dead, Granny Relda in the town of Ferryport Landing.
In Ferryport Landing, the sisters discover that the fairy tales they grew up reading are based on real people, known as Everafters, and that they are the descendants of the original Brothers Grimm. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were not storytellers but fairy tale detectives who were writing down history and all of their favourite fairy tale characters are still alive and living in Ferryport Landing. Well, more specifically alive and trapped in Ferryport Landing. The Brothers Grimm bound the Everafters to the town to prevent their magic being known to the rest of the world. At first the girls don’t believe it and try to run away. But then a giant is set loose upon the town and Sabrina and Daphne join the family business, eventually getting entangled in a larger mystery involving their missing parents and a secret organisation called the Scarlet Hand.
The books are so entertaining as Buckley plays with both familiar tales such as Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood as well as less familiar stories such as the Russian fairy tale witch Baba Yaga. Recognising fairy tale characters is always fun and it’s interesting to see how different characters would react if they met each other.
I reread these a few years ago, and they were still really fun to read. That’s what I consider good writing – if it can be enjoyed at all ages. There is also a lot of character development, especially for Sabrina and Daphne, which I really enjoyed. I do think it is a little bit of a long series at nine books, but the story is very compelling. I’d recommend to fans to A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Sabrina Grimm: Headstrong, stubborn and brave. Sabrina Grimm, 11, is fiercely protective of her sister and is an interesting and complex character. She calls herself the ‘Queen of Sneaks’ as she has a history of escaping foster homes.
Daphne Grimm: Sweet and young, Daphne Grimme, seven, spends her time learning new words (and later Kung Fu with Snow White). She is the fangirl in all of us, getting ridiculously excited whenever she meets a new fairy tale character.
Granny Relda: Equal parts tough and loving, determined to help Everafters and interested in pursuing the detective work of the Grimm family, she is the constant in the series.
Puck: From A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, Puck is chaotic good. He describes himself as the villain and ‘The Trickster King’, often playing pranks (especially on Sabrina). He injects a lot of fun into the books.
Snow White: Initially the naive young girl that Disney fans are familiar with, after multiple attempts on her life, she changes dramatically. Snow White is your badass feminist dream version of the princess, determined to take care of herself and teaches other girls self defence.
William Charming: You know how at one point every fairy tale involving a princess had a generic Prince Charming? This is him. The same man who chased multiple women across fairy tales. An ambivalent character who at times is an enemy and at times an ally.
Magic wands: Magic wands allow non-magical folk to perform spells but this magic can be as addictive as drugs.
Hall of Wonders: The Magic Mirror (from Snow White) lives inside Granny Relda’s home and he hosts the Hall of Wonders. It’s full of doorways that hold magical creatures and allow you to travel to different lands.
Forgetful Dust: A magical dust that produces amnesia for recent events, used to keep the humans unaware of the existence of Everafters.
The Grimm House: the Grimm base in Ferryport Landing and covered in enchantments. The enchantments stops inhabitants from feeling the effects of Forgetful Dust. One that I remember quite clearly is that you must say hello to the house as you enter, in order to prevent its enchantments being set on you.
Happily Ever After?
There is definitely a version of happily ever after in this series. There is a build up to a huge battle in the final book, there’s death and betrayal too. However the ending suffers from Unnecessary Epilogue Syndrome. Epilogues often undo character development in favour for having an ending that is open enough for a spin-off. Unfortunately this is the case for this series. But it doesn’t take away from the rest of the series!
On My Wishlist
I’ve just discovered that the series has had a revamp and look how beautiful the new issues are. They are absolutely gorgeous with bold, colourful graphic designs. Start with Book 1, The Fairy Tale Detectives!
To add the series on Goodreads, you can find all the books here.