Review: Grimm Diaries Prequels 1-6 by Cameron Jace

grimm diariesReviewed by Janell

I’m reviewing the first six prequels in this series. According to Goodreads, there are ten total prequels and two actual Grimm Diaries books available now. I get the sense that the author has a lot of ideas about a lot of fairy tale characters, and there might be one unifying plot line, but it’s taking a lot of detours.

The premise, as stated in the first prequel, is that the “Brothers Grimm altered the true fairy tales, hiding the fact that the characters we thought we knew were Immortals, secretly living among us.” Somehow the Grimm fairy tales cursed these real characters, trapping them in a dreamland, but they awaken every 100 years to cause mischief and mayhem. There are also descendants of the Grimm brothers who can enter the dreams of the Immortals and kill them for real. Or maybe just trap them forever? I’m not totally sure.

Prequel 1 is narrated by the Queen of Sorrow, who in fairytale world is known as Snow White’s wicked stepmother. According to the Queen, she is wicked, but not nearly as wicked as Snow White herself, who by the way is her actual daughter and quite possibly a vampire. The Queen is addressing one of the Grimm brothers, explaining her goal to kill Snow White forever.

Prequel 2 is narrated by a teen girl who is also a dream hunter. An 800-year-old corpse has been discovered, and she thinks it’s Cinderella, so she travels into the dream of Cinderella’s mother along with a rapscallion boy dream hunter so that she can alter the story of Cinderella’s birth and make Cinderella not dead after all. Cue the time-warp loop-de-loop sound effects.

Prequel 3 is Peter Pan’s diary entry, explaining his most excellent day of resurrecting Dracula so that Dracula can turn around and revive Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan’s love, who happens to be another mischievous witch/possible vampire.

Prequel 4 is about Little Red Riding Hood, a young girl living with her mother in the woods. “Ladle,” as her mother calls her, is afraid of wolves and curious about what she calls “the Secret Mysterious Matter of my Mother and the Tree with the Fortune Cookies Outside the House.” It turns out that wandering through the woods looking for Gramma’s house isn’t an errand of mercy. Also, Gramma lives in a house made of cookies, cake, and candy, and she likes to eat small children.

Prequel 5 is narrated by the Devil, who is not a trapped fairy tale character but a living observer. He tells the story of how Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary came to be. She was cursed by a splinter of a very wicked mirror, and she likes to torture and kill people.

Prequel 6 is narrated by Prince Charming as he tells of his efforts to rescue Snow White from Rapunzel’s tower, with a little help from Jack (of Jack and the Beanstalk fame). Prince knows that Snow White is wicked, but, hey, he’s in love with her.

So…yeah. This is an imaginative take on fairy tale characters, although they’re nearly all evil. The teen girl dream hunter isn’t wicked, but her narrative voice is immature. And Cinderella probably isn’t bad, either, but we don’t actually meet her. So I can’t say I really liked any of the characters. The story of Mary Mary was particularly gruesome. I think the Queen of Sorrow is supposed to be the supreme cool (yet evil) character, so her quest to take care of Snow White might be a unifying plot thread.

But there was a lot about these stories that didn’t work for me. I felt disjointed in time — characters describing things in the past, but is fairy tale time different from real time? The Devil makes a big deal out of silver mirrors being invented, but he also references modern times, so maybe he just exists in all time. I don’t know when Red Riding Hood’s story took place. Getting over these technical questions, the narrative voices were sometimes a stretch. Peter Pan tried too hard to say he was a boy, although his actions and world-weariness bespoke an old soul. Harry Potter was referenced several times, and the Devil and the Queen threw in some urban slang. Peter Pan and the Prince both have the attitude of, “Yeah, I love a wicked girl, but whatevs.”

Since this is a romance blog, I have to say that there’s not any. No falling in love, although teen girl dream hunter was both attracted to and annoyed by the teen boy dream hunter in a stereotypical fashion. I didn’t feel an emotional connection to any character or their relationship to anyone else. With such small snippets, I didn’t know what ultimate goal to wait for, or who to root for. It’s imaginative, yes. And maybe over the course of a few books everything will tie together and every character will have a purpose in the final act. But I won’t be continuing on.

Rating: C-

*Books provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Grimm Diaries: Prequels 1-6
by Jace Cameron
Release Date: November 19, 2012

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