A deliciously twisty story through a fictionalized version of Paris where magic is real, Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd is a tantalizing start to an intriguing new fantasy series.
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.
From New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd, Grim Lovelies is an epic and glittering YA fantasy. Prepare to be spellbound by the world of Grim Lovelies, where secrets have been long buried, friends can become enemies, and everything—especially humanity—comes at a price.
Though the book has its origin in fairy tales (and the animals so often turned into humans, aka Cinderella’s mice), that’s about where the inspiration ends. Grim Lovelies is no retelling, but a wholly original story with a complex and thoroughly well-planned magic system in which there are beasties and goblins and royals and witches, and all of them vying for power and control in one way or another. And despite the complexities of this world, Shepherd does a good job of explaining it while the story unfolds — as this power struggle serves nicely as a backdrop to the more urgent plot of Anouk and her friends fighting to stay human.
I loved Anouk’s storyline in this book. She is a quiet, shy, kind of meek character — but over the course of the plot, she grows and develops into a strong, determined person, while still remaining true to who she was at the beginning. That is, she doesn’t turn into some Wonder Woman — but she finds the quiet strength within herself, and owns it.
The other characters are just as enchanting. There are bad guys who maybe aren’t bad guys after all, and good guys who may actually be villains, and allies found in unlikely places. There’s romance, too (how could a book set in Paris not have romance?) — and while I adored the pairing, my ‘shipper heart sees other potential paramours for our dear Anouk, and I’m tantalized by the prospect.
The first in a new series, Grim Lovelies ends with certain loose threads tied up — and others left in questionable pieces. I adored losing myself in this lush, magical world and can’t wait to see where it goes next. Look for it in stores now.