A Review of: Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd
Grim Lovelies is a young adult fantasy novel by Megan Shepherd. It is the story of five beasties (animals turned into humans by a witch) whose newfound humanity is threatened when their witch mistress is murdered. They have three days to find the spell that will keep them human or risk turning back into animals.
The novel is told from the third person perspective of Anouk. I feel as though, especially in YA, this particular narration style is underused. I have a special attachment to it given it’s what I started out using when I began writing. This style worked well for this novel, even though I didn’t particularly like Anouk as a character.
The main protagonists are the beasties/familiars Anouk, Beau, and Cricket, though there are also two others, being Hunter Black and Luc. The main antagonists are the exiled witch Mada Zola and Prince Rennar, who rules over the magical world. There is also Viggo, a witch’s ‘son’ who begins as an antagonist but later has a change of heart.
These characters felt incredibly one dimensional to me. For example, Cricket is angry and intent on revenge at any cost, while Beau is overly protective of Anouk. These seem to be their only notable personality traits. When it comes to Anouk, the author can’t seem to decide if she is sweet and innocent, or cunning and smart.
The pacing is probably the strongest aspect of this novel. I felt the novel as a whole flowed quite well. The book takes place over the course of four days, and this time frame felt realistic given the events that occur within the novel. I appreciated that at the top of each chapter it gave the amount of time they had left, which was nice to reference.
The book is set in Paris, France. There was so much potential to explore the city, especially given that Anouk has spent her life inside longing to see the outside world. However, most of the story takes place within several manors/castles.
Viggo’s character undergoes a transition from antagonist to secondary protagonist, but for me this change really made no sense and wasn’t justified at all by the events of the novel. Additionally, given the true nature of the beasties, Viggo’s obsession with Cricket and Hunter Black’s feelings for Viggo border on bestiality.
Finally, I found the ending to be quite unsatisfactory. It did not do the characters justice. The author tries to make us care for these characters throughout the entire novel, and their fates felt cheap. It seemed like she was trying to set up a potential sequel, but I felt story could have easily been wrapped up in one novel.
Would I Recommend This Read?:
I’m torn on this one. There were elements I liked, and the plot itself is interesting. That being said, I had quite a few qualms with the novel as well. If you’re into fantasy and the concepts of witches and magic, then you’ll probably like it. If there ever does come a sequel, however, I really have no interest in reading it.
Final Rating: 7.5/10