The Grimm Chronicles Book Review and Author Interview


The Grimm Chronicles

Isabella Fontaine & Ken Brosky

Genre: Young Adult

August 2012

406 Pages

About the Book:

200 years ago, the Brothers Grimm unleashed their stories upon the world.

Literally.

Now the characters of the Grimms’ stories walk among us. With every day that passes, they grow more evil. They are the Corrupted, and only a hero can stop them. For 18-year-old Alice Goodenough, that means taking precious time off from her summer vacation. In addition to volunteering at the local library, Alice must stop the Corrupted who are now actively hunting her down. With the help of her magic pen and her trusty rabbit friend, the world has suddenly gotten a lot more complex.

The Corrupted are everywhere, and only Alice can see them for what they truly are.

My Review:

I love a book with a strong female character and I am a big fan of the original Brothers’ Grimm stories – you know the really dark ones where Cinderella’s stepsisters actually cut off their toes so they could fit into the glass slippers?  I was really looking forward to reading this series.

The Grimm Chronicles series is being released one story every two months, then every three stories is bound into a volume.  There will be a total of 12 stories, or four volumes.  The book I reviewed is Volume One, including the first three stories.

I really enjoyed the main character, Alice Goodenough (not a big fan of the name – reminded me of the ballet dancer Alexander Godenov).  She is strong, witty, and more than a little obsessed with clothes (but so was I at that age).  I also enjoyed the villains – especially the dastardly dwarves.

My biggest problem with the stories is the gigantic deus ex machina of Briar, the rabbit, who although not a Grimm character was somehow created from the same magic paper, but unlike the Grimm characters is essentially good.  As if that wasn’t complicated enough, Briar magically appears whenever Alice is in a particularly difficult situation to save her teenage butt from certain doom.

The action sequences are plenty scary and the Grimm characters more than creepy, but the rabbit to me just throws the story out of whack.  I would have preferred to see Alice solve her problems on her own (which she does sometimes) or with the help of her friends and family (which she does sometimes).

I give The Grimm Chronicles 3 1/2 magic pens.

About the Authors:

Ken Brosky received his MFA in writing from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and lives in Madison, WI. In addition to writing The Grimm Chronicles, he also spends time writing literary fiction and has been published in magazines including Gargoyle and Barcelona Review.

Isabella Fontaine calls Wisconsin her home. This is her first Young Adult series. She once read through the entire dictionary because she wanted to know more about words!

Interview with the Authors:

TM: Who first had the idea for The Grimm Chronicles, Vol. 1?

KB: I came up with the initial idea. It all stemmed from an old, old story that was stuck in my head about some kind of hero who had to rid the world of demons. He had a sword, and it was inspired a lot by stories like Mage and Mighty Max. In fact, it was probably a 50-50 concoction of the two!

But Mighty Max especially. There’s just something incredible about that cartoon. You’ve got a kid with a magic hat who has to outwit his enemies … and accompanying him on his journey are two of the strangest characters: a big, brutish bodyguard and a talking chicken. Fowl, actually.

Anywho. We scrapped the idea about the guy fighting demons and instead made it a girl of high school age who fights characters from the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. It turns out they once tried to bring their stories to life and … well, that didn’t turn out too well.

TM: How did your collaboration come about?

IF and KB: That’s a secret! Suffice it to say we needed each other’s abilities.

TM:  What drew you to the YA genre?

IF and KB: We’ve always had a fascination with cartoons and comics and of course the old books we read as kids. Stuff like James and the Giant Peach and of course some of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” novels. And we got tired of seeing Twilight on the best-seller list. It has it’s audience (and that’s fine), but Young Adult stories can be so much more empowering than that!

When we scrapped Ken’s initial idea and started fleshing out the storyline a bit, it was clear that we had the opportunity to create a female hero who isn’t the cookie-cutter butt-kicking sexy heroine that’s become so common. Since she has a magical fountain pen and no other special powers, she has to rely on her brain to get her through a lot of tough situations. We like this. We enjoy testing her intelligence on the page.

TM:  What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

IF and KB: Revise your work a few times. Read lots and lots and lots of books. Try not to emulate other writers’ stories … but do try to emulate what makes their writing styles good. Don’t use strange dialogue tags. Attend workshops so others see your work. Accept feedback. Accept criticism. Have a message. Have a point. Read your dialogue out loud to see if it sounds weird. Try not to be melodramatic. Make your characters real. Don’t forget about the setting. Don’t forget about the smells. Don’t write about your characters using the bathroom (unless that has something to do with the story). Be unique if you can’t be original. Read lots and lots and lots of books … yes, we know that was already mentioned.

TM: Tell me about any upcoming projects.

IF and KB: Ken is always working on his literary fiction. Isabella is focused on this series. We have episode 4 coming out on October 25, then episode 5 coming out December 25 and episode 6 coming out February 25. These three books will be interconnected, just like the first 3 were, and we’ll collect them into a print edition. We’re almost done with the rough drafts and will be working on the revisions very, very soon. Expect giant monsters, smoke creatures, a dwarf, a new friendship, and a very terrifying homage to Moby Dick

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I received a review copy of this book for the purpose of the interview thanks to Innovative Online Book Tours.  Regardless, all opinions are mine.

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