Title: Grim Lovelies (Grim Lovelies #1)
Author: Megan Shepherd
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Release Date: October 2nd 2018 from HMH Teen
Format: Physical ARC
*I traded this ARC on Twitter in order to read and read this for review. I do treat this as any other normal ARC review. All thoughts are my own and quotations will not be used.*
Goodreads Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.
Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.
When I read a sample of this book on NetGalley, I was over the moon and dying to get my hands on an ARC of this book. I loved Shepherd’s Civil War story in The Radical Element earlier this year, so I already knew I would enjoy the writing. So I was able to trade on Twitter for this book, I couldn’t believe I had it in my hands. So what did I think? Well….another one bites the dust I sadly didn’t enjoy this book very much.
DNF after 165 pages, including the ending
The book did start out very well, with seeing Anouk be a house servant to Madam Vittora who made her into a Beastie and the other Beasties that she lives with. I liked the pacing, setting up of the world and how some of the magic works and also talking about a mystery subplot that I wanted to learn more of. The concept of the human world having the goblins, witches and other creatures influencing humans and charming them was fascinating. I also liked Anouk for the most part; it was nice to see a YA fantasy that was written in third person instead of the overly done first person. The first 75 pages were very fast paced, well written and held promise.
Then as I started to keep reading, the plot slowed down and things started fizzling out for me. There’s an unrequited romance from Beau, another beastie and it was annoying to read. Anouk is clearly not interested in him, yet he keeps pushing and trying to make her love him which is never a good thing. I don’t like it when YA books have an unrequited love interest and they keep trying to make the protagonist love him and there’s the possibility of them ending up together, which I don’t agree with. I wish that she would speak his mind enough that he would back off, but after reading more than 150 pages of this unrequited crush, she never does. Also, the sense of their time running out before they turn back into animals again didn’t feel so important. Time slows down a lot for useless conversations, thoughts about fashion and not acting as urgent as they should have been.
There’s a part where they reach a possible ally and all this time is taken to beat the reader over the head with a lot of exposition, info dump dialogue about the history of their world and how the magic works, which we got a good amount of earlier in the book. The repetition was annoying and made the urgent situation even less important. I felt like pages were being wasted, instead of them acting urgent and taking action to find a new master. I still had a bit over 200 pages left to read and I felt annoyed that there was still a ton of pages left.
Upon reading the last chapter, I was only curious to see how things turned out and for me, the ending turned me off the book. The Beasties are basically special snowflake monsters and the main girl ends up getting some major additions to her situation that annoyed me. I don’t mind having a race of monsters that are powerful and tried to be kept hidden. But it just felt like the main character got everything she wanted without too much of a challenge. Tropes like this where the main character gets a lot of things by the end of book one is a turn off for me, since I prefer much more struggle for the characters.
One final thing is that the animal pelts creep me out. Since Anouk and the other Beasties were transformed from animals into humans, their master still keeps their animal pelts as part of the spell. I’m a major animal lover and the possibilities of what happened to those animals for that ritual was too much for me to hang in the background. So while I was reading, I couldn’t handle the possibilities of what could happen if they changed back or if more was revealed about the ritual itself. This is a personal preference thing, but it still affected my negative experience of the book. So while I will try another book by Shepherd in the future, there were a few major aspects of the book that I didn’t enjoy nor felt comfortable with to finish it.
Have you read this book? Are you excited for it? Have you read any of Megan Shepherd’s other books and if so, which one would you recommend to me?