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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-04-24 06:23
Review: The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag
The Sisters Grimm - Menna van Praag

***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Netgalley and Harper Voyager!***


The first thing that drew me to this book was the cover. I mean, look at it. It is probably one of the most gorgeous book covers that I have ever seen. Then the title. The Sisters Grimm. Immediately my mind is drawn to fairy tales. I love fairy tales. And I love fairy tell re-tellings. But this book is a perfect example of a good idea that got beaten to death with poor writing and poor execution.


***SPOILER ALERT: Be aware, this is a spoilery review. The ranty ones typically are.



The basic idea of this book is that a demon (Wilhelm I think his name was) has fathered thousands of sisters Grimm on earth. I am not sure if this is metaphysical thing or a biological thing, but some of the daughters have mothers who are also Grimm sisters. So, ew, I imagine at some point in the history of this world we had some incest. As children, the Grimm sisters can come and go from “Everywhere”, a magical forest, as they please. But as they age they forget this place until about a month before their 18th birthday, which is when they start to remember and get their powers back. Wilhelm also has soldiers, who are transformed into babies from stars (WTF?), and their life’s mission is to kill Grimm sisters on their 18th birthdays. Then something about the Grimm sisters who survive have to choose good or evil and then their father kills them if they choose good and then….well, the author didn’t both to tell me what happens then.


That was my first big problem with this book. Despite being 400 pages long, the author didn’t bother to explain anything to me. I have no idea how the world works, how the magic works, why things are this way, or what the rules are. I am not even clear on what the sisters’ powers are. Scarlet can start fires, Liyana can telepathically listen in on other people’s minds, Bea can transform things with her mind. And I have no idea what Goldie can do except mentally tell people what to do and they sometimes listen. And all of them have other powers that randomly appear and don’t seem to relate to anything else they can do, at all.


Since we’re talking about the girls, let’s talk about how utterly devoid of personality all of them are. I honestly could not tell the difference between any of them until someone used their name or until Bea or Liyana would occasionally throw in a non-English word into an otherwise entirely English conversation….seemingly in order to remind me that they were the book’s representation of other ethnicities and cultures.


Now let’s talk about the technicals of the writing. It was bad. It was the single most confusing book that I have ever read. There are SO MANY narrators. Everywhere (yes the forest is a narrator), Goldie, Scarlet, Bea, Liyana, Leo, Wilhelm, Liyana’s aunt….and I am pretty sure there were a few others in there that I’m forgetting too. Between these narrators, some of them are told in first person, some in second person, and some in third person. And the narrator changes approximately every page and a half. With me so far? Now let’s throw in some chapters in the past for some extra fun so that we have past tense, present tense, and future tense. It was so difficult to read. It gave me a headache when I actually tried to concentrate on who was speaking and what time period we were in.


I also don’t appreciate what the author did to poor Vali. He was a nice guy. And despite the book’s message of empowerment, all Bea did was belittle the poor guy. She called him fat, called him all sorts of other names, made fun of him for being a virgin and then ultimately killed him! Then she has the nerve to get upset about him dying because she didn’t mean to. Way to go Bea, you bullied him to death. The author did him dirty and I am still mad about it.


I finally gave up on this book after 245 pages. My brain couldn’t handle it anymore and I found that I really didn’t care how it ends. Leo is not going to kill Goldie, Goldie will probably choose good. Liyana and Scarlet will probably die because they were entirely expendable in the rest of the book so why not? And Bea will probably live and choose evil. Or maybe all four of them survive and choose good in order to challenge their father. But really, who cares? The author hasn’t made me care about their upcoming battle or told me why the outcome matters, so why should I spend any more of my time finding out?

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review 2020-04-11 21:39
The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag
The Sisters Grimm - Menna van Praag

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.




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text 2020-04-08 21:28
Reading Update: 50%
The Sisters Grimm - Menna van Praag



Midweek food and book! The Sisters Grimm is starting off a tad confusing with multiple povs and some times jumps but has intriguing magical realism delight.


Stay safe, sane, and healthy, friends :)


The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag purchase link


Prawn Mango Avocado Salad w/ Lemon Lime Dressing recipe

A fav that I love to make over and over. 


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review 2020-02-29 02:00
The Sisters Grimm
The Sisters Grimm - Menna van Praag

Please note that I received this via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review. 


Wow. This was just bad. I’ve been trying to get through this book since December. At 20 percent today I called it quits. The changing points of views told in first, second, and third person was headache inducing. The girls in this story are insufferable for the most part. And we have a whole storyline about “stars” (I don’t know...demons?) hunting the sisters I just ceased to care. It doesn’t help the time line is all over the place too. 


I love magical realism books, but they have to have an actual plot and world building you can follow. We’re not getting any idea of this world that Praag is trying to build. I can hazard a guess that some of these “girls” are built upon fairy tale characters from the Grimm Fairytales (we have a Goldie, Liyana, Scarlet, and Bea). If I cared at all I would try to figure out Liyana and Bea’s fairy tale equivalents. I do not not though so moving on. 


The flow is awful with the a decade before and the a countdown to I guess a quarter moon or something? Seriously it’s just a lot happening with zero explanations. 


The setting is I guess modern day London, but it seemed to not matter at all. It could have taken place in Timbuktu. 


This is my last book by this author.  

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text 2020-02-14 13:20
Reading progress update: I've read 5%.
The Sisters Grimm - Menna van Praag

Her last book was a miss with me so trying again. 

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