I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Sisters Grimm are daughters of air---at least they begin that way---born of dreams and prayer, imagination and faith, bright-white wishing and black-edged desire.
Melding together magical realism, fairy tales, and good versus evil, The Sisters Grimm was a young adult book that had an intriguing premise but ultimately, took on too much. The reader is introduced to four girls and one boy in constant, short bursts of first person povs. Time stamps and a countdown of days start each pov and chapter, alerting that the story is building up to something. Goldie's pov was most prominent and it becomes clear that Goldilocks and earth are her ties to the magical aspect. Goldie's “sisters” are Liyana, and I think, the Little Mermaid and water for her power, Scarlet as Little Red Riding Hood and fire, and Bea as Beauty and the Beast and air. To go along with the pov jumps, there are back into the past time jumps when these four girls could visit the magical land, Everwhere, they were born from ten years ago.
If it already seems like a lot to keep track of, you are not alone, it took until around the 30% mark for me to even get close to sliding into the mode of how this story was written. The changing povs, tense shifts, and time jumps created a disjointed and disruptive pace that never flowed smoothly for me. I also thought the world building could have been much stronger; the reader has these characters thrown at them without much context to the world. Part of the lack of explanation in the beginning was probably due to keeping some mystery but even in the second half I couldn't conceptualize Everwhere. From what I could gather, the father, Wilhelm, is God and he created Grimm girls and Soldier boys to fight in the never ending Good vs. Evil, but he pulls for Evil. Soldiers are stars that have fallen to the earth while Grimms are born from Wilhelm sleeping with Grimm women. Yes, if I understood this right, incest plays a big part in this world.
Along with the Grimm girls, Leo, a soldier plays a big part as he initially is trying to get close to Goldie to kill her. While Grimm girls can travel to Everwhere in their dreams from a young age, they lose their ability to and memories at age thirteen and don't come into their powers until eighteen (hence the countdown utilized in the story, the girls are seventeen with about a month until their eighteenth birthday). Leo knows what Goldie is and senses she is the most powerful Grimm he's ever encounter (no explanation or real evidence is given as to why she's the most powerful). However, as he gets closer to her to kill her, he falls in love with her (again, as I understand it, she would be his sister, so more incest?), so we get a little bit of star-crossed lovers plot thread.
“So know your head and know your heart, sisters. Remember what lies behind you, imagine what lies ahead of you, and make your choice carefully.”
Liyana is the sister that remembers the most from when they were younger and visited each other in their dreams in Everwhere and through her, the reader gains a little insight to what is happening in regards to the magical realism. If you ever watched the show Sense 8, there was a bit of that vibe, a group of people living their lives but having these moments of connection with others, confusing at first but worth it if there is a good payoff. The ending of this didn't give me the explanations or payoff I was looking for after making my way through the story. The choosing of the sisters if they are going to go Good or Evil didn't have a lot of drama and the big battle against Wilhelm the father was, for the most part, pretty anticlimactic. While the ending gives a complete picture of what happened, it leaves the story with an ending that made me think “What was the point of it all?”, not satisfactory at all.
I would agree with this being labeled as a young adult, the leads are all seventeen/eighteen and while the girls have sex, it is only alluded to and not shown for the most part. There was however, one graphic sex scene and there were numerous trigger warnings (self-harm, the possible incest, sexual assault). The structure of this story, thin world building, lack of payoff, and ending that made it seem not worth it, will have this being more of a disappointment than a story I will fondly revisit.