ARC provided by HMH via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Title: Grim Lovelies
Series: Grim Lovelies, #1
Author: Megan Shepherd
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
My rating: ★
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.
There we have it, folks. My first one-star rating of 2018. I am so sorry and hope I don’t offend anyone with this post, but Grim Lovelies was the biggest disappointment of the year for me.
Grim Lovelies is an urban fantasy set in a Paris where there are different classes of people/supernaturals:
- The Pretties: humans like us who live in the world, existing with their flashy technology and cars.
- The Haute: The magical elite such as witches and goblins.
- The Beasties: Animals who were enchanted and turned into humans with the purpose to serve the Haute.
Anouk is a Beastie who serves a powerful witch, Mada Vittora. Anouk also lives with other Beasties: Luc, Beau, Cricket, and Hunter Black. Mada Vittora also has a human son, Viggo. However, one day Mada Vittora is murdered, and the Beasties are now living on borrowed time. You see, once the witch who “made” a Beastie dies, her powers die with her. The Beasties only have three days to find a way to remain human or else they are turned back into their original animal forms.
Grim Lovelies failed at pulling me in from the first page. I was really hoping for more witchy story lines and a stronger magic system. The world building also fell completely flat. There were no explanations about how their magic system worked; it was just there. And even though Anouk is a subservient girl who isn’t supposed to be able to do magic, she was able to all of a sudden cast powerful spells without any training at all. It was like she was “the chosen one” and there was no explanation on how she became to be powerful.
The other characters were also just… there. I didn’t fall in love with anyone even though they all had so much potential for better character arcs. The gay rep for Hunter Black was so cast over and I really hated what happened to his character towards the end. Also I felt zero chemistry between Beau and Anouk. Their romance was such a failed attempt at friends-to-lovers. It really didn’t even need to happen.
Then there’s Luc who is our POC rep but he’s basically stuck in a giant hand bag throughout the ENTIRE book, so we only meet him much later. Dare I say my only favorite characters were the “villains” or “morally ambiguous characters”: Petra (I loved her; she is trans and was the one redeeming character in this entire book), Viggo (he’s only funny when he’s under a love spell), and Rennar, the main villain. But even then, Rennar was such a weak villain and I didn’t even understand why he had to exist other than to just… be the bad guy. He has no back story or purpose other than “wanting power.”
I don’t know, y’all. I think I just had way higher expectations and I was really let down. I wanted a vast world of beasts and witches, a stronger magic system, and back stories on how this all came to be. The writing and progression felt juvenile, and I think this book would benefit more as a middle grade book. Better yet, I believe some of the scenes and characters could translate well if illustrated in a manga. But it all ends on a cliff hanger, and this just disappointed me even further. I wasn’t expecting this to be a series, so that’s my bad on my part.
I didn’t hate this book and I’m not angry at it. But it just left me feeling so disappointed about so many things. And overall? I was so bored. I got really hopeful around the 50% mark when things finally picked up, but then it all went downhill again.
I hope you all like it more than I did!