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Monday, December 30, 2013

Blog Tour Omnibus Review: The Grimm Diaries Prequels 1-6

Release Date: November 19, 2012
Author: Cameron Jace
Publisher: Independently Published
Length: 274 pages
Source: Review Copy for Tour

What if all you knew about fairy tales was wrong?

The Grimm Diaries are pages written in a Book of Sand, where each fairy tale character confessed the true stories once altered by the Brothers Grimm two centuries ago. To keep the truth about fairy tales hidden, the Brothers Grimm buried the characters in their dreams to never wake up again. But the curse is broken now, and the characters are allowed to wake up every one hundred years. They intend to tell the truth about really happened, and about an untold cosmic conflict between fairy tale characters.

These Grimm Diaries Prequels are a number of short books in the form of epistolary diary entries. The diaries are more of teasers for the upcoming series: The Grimm Diaries, allowing you to get a glimpse of what to expect of the series. The 6 diaries are told by The Evil Queen, Peter Pan, Little Red Riding Hood, the Devil, Prince Charming, and Alice Grimm.


  

Reviews:

Prologue: The prologue to this anthology sets up how the author redefines fairytales and introduces readers to this world as a whole. While I usually like a lot of info dump, exposition, and backstory this prologue, however, gives a rather confusing explanation of how this world works. There needed to be either a bit more explanation or maybe making it clearer because while I understood the gist of what was going on the complicated specifics were a bit hard to fully grasp. As for the things I could understand, how the author twist and molds fairytales into history was something I greatly admired, I'm a huge fan of weaving stories into history making the fantastic seem nearly possible.

Rating:


While I enjoyed the new spin on classic fairy tales, it was a bit confusing when it came to the more specific details. If this prologue was just a bit clearer in what it was trying to explain it would have been a lot stronger.

Snow White Blood Red: As the title suggests, this prequel is all about everyone's favorite fairytale, Snow White. Okay, so I know it's not really everyone's favorite, not even mine (which is Beauty and the Beast by the way), but it seems like that's a what many fairytale retellings seem to immediately go, much like the Persephone myth is for Greek Mythology retellings. Told from the perspective of The Evil Queen, also known as the Snow White Queen, this prequel puts a rather bloody spin on the fairytale. While I can't go into specifics in an effort to avoid spoilers, I can say that I was really surprised by the author's twist on this tale, it's something I've never really seen before and while he is retelling a classic tale his original spin on it while a bit shaky definitely caught me off guard and was something I liked a lot and makes me interested in seeing what's to come in both this prequels series as well as the main Grimm Diaries series.

Rating:


Like I said above, the twist on the Snow White tale is a bit shaky and while I think it's a really good twist and something I don't think anyone would guess going in, there's just some quality to it that makes it a bit unbelievable, maybe it just deviates from the tale so much or it's the Evil Queen's bias, but it just falls a bit flat.

Ashes to Ashes and Cinder to Cinder: Told from the perspective of Alice Grimm one of the descendants of the famous Brothers Grimm, this story had a bit more normalcy to it. What I mean by that it it shows the modern day world, and how it interacts with the world that these fairytale characters live in, instead of being rooted purely into the fairytale world. This novella focuses a bit on the origins of Cindrella, once again the story goes someplace unexpected, however not in the same way as the previous prequel. It's twist is a bit more historic and it really added a good depth to the fairytale side of things. There was also a good chunk of romance in this one too, and while the romance may have been better had the story progressed farther that the small amount of pages it did, because of the short size the romance was fairly casual and the male side of the romance was a bit too cocky for such a short story. There was also the mention of how Alice was so drawn to Loki, which made me feel uneasy, while I'm all for that when the story could actually go somewhere with it due to the events of this book and the length of it the romance seems wasted and much more like pandering than storytelling, I could be wrong and in future installments to either this series or the main one there could be a deeper more meaningful romance between these two, but if this was just a one shot romance it should have just been changed to a friendship or maybe a flirty Loki and an "I'm not having any of it" Alice which would have added some more comedy to the novella.

Rating:


This was a tough one to rate, on one hand I loved it, it was a great origin story for Cinderella, on the other however, the oversaturated romance that seems to go no where for now detracted from the story, if however this romance will progress in future installments, I could maybe forgive the unnecessary romance but I really feel like a good slow burn or minor romantic elements would have helped this prequel.

Beauty Never Dies: Told from the perspective of Peter Pan, this story is the first time we really see the fairytales interacting with each other. While I thought the story was fairly good, I was turned off by a few things. First off the constant references to pop culture were so overused that they lost their sense of realness and seemed more like a gimmick. How Peter Pan is drawn to the Evil Queen is so weird to me, it nearly creepy if there was a somewhat sturdy explanation. With this being more or less a continuation from the first novella, and taking place after the second, I loved seeing these prequels really begin to tie together well, though I do have to say that while I like a certain show that pushes the boundaries of fairytales to extreme limits there's something about it happening in this series that just doesn't work, I wish I had a better idea about what it was that turned me off to these fractures fairytales, but at this moment I can't. Also the inclusion of a couple of characters from novels that I wouldn't consider in the "fairytale genre," like how Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland are considered "fairytales" even though they are novels, I felt came in too soon in this series and would have really needed to introduced later on when there's a good platform of the story for them to stand on.

Rating:


While there was a lot that I found unlikable about this prequel, they were rather small things, but the story really needed a good amount of substance to overcome it's faults and so even the things that would have only set the story back one star at the most really effected how I rated this installment.

Ladle Rat Rotten Hut: Told from the point of view of Little Red Riding Hood, this story is by far the best, at least out of the first four it is. While the twist on Red's story is a bit shaky, like Snow's is, as the story progresses it gets a bit better, and becomes more and more stable. There was a small bit of romance in this story and it was done to perfection, it didn't go either too fast or too slow and it felt right, while it wasn't quite realistic, the circumstances surrounding it helped it work well with the story. While this story isn't tied too closely with the story arc that these prequels seem to be telling it does have a slight connection to the arc, much like Ashes to Ashes and Cinder to Cinder did. The blending of fairytale characters seemed more organic and made more sense feeling much more like that television show I alluded to earlier.

Rating:


I was really surprised with how much I enjoyed this story, it's a definite improvement over the previous tales and has me a bit more excited and hopeful to see where these characters may go.


Mary Mary Quite Contrary: Told from the Devil's point of view this tale is more history than fairytale. While I'm not opposed to the Devil as a narrator, or even the Devil as a character in these stories (which I got over after reading the Author's notes), I was put off by how much this Devil felt like a mischievous boy more than an evil and sinister Prince of Darkness, and with his weird and confusing knowledge of the future which seems fairly inconsistent throughout the story, his narration was less than desirable. The story itself however was really cool, it just shows how the author weaves these fairytales through known history. With the inclusion of folk tales such as Bloody Mary, the nursery rhyme "Mary Mary Quite Contrary" hence the title, and the somewhat debated history of Elizabeth Bathory, who is apparently the most prolific female serial killer in history. The one thing that was missing was that other than a passing mention or two of Peter Pan there wasn't really any connection to the larger story, that is until the end of the book when it comes abundantly clear where this fits into the overall story. 

Rating:


Much like the Little Red Riding Hood story this one was very well crafted, however unlike that story I never got the feeling that this Devil narrator fit with the story very well. It was disappointing as I was looking for a really nice and malevolent Devil, but instead got someone who's voices was eerily similar to that of Peter Pan, which may have been on purpose, but I expected more out of the Devil.


Blood Apples: The last story in this anthology of prequels is told by Prince Charming. While Charming isn't totally clueless, he's not the brightest crayon in the box, but really what more would you expect from someone enthralled by a monstrous beauty. This story details the origin of why apples are red, which seemed a bit weird to explore, but it made for a good story, so I'm not upset by it. We also get to see Rapunzel, and learn about Jack and the Beanstalk and there's a mention on Pan and his own monstrous Beauty. What I didn't enjoy however was there wasn't too much connection to the overall arc, or really any continuation of it, making this the third novella in a row that omits the storyline that was progressing with the first three novellas. While there is of course connection with the other stories themselves, I really wanted a bit more knowledge of where this story is heading. Also, while I said I'm fairly comfortable with the Devil being portrayed in these stories, I am fairly hesitant when the author brought in the mention of Adam and Eve, while I'm not opposed to Biblical reinterpretations, I am a bit hesitant when they are mixed with classics and fairytales.

Rating:


I was a bit torn on how I was going to rate this, on one hand it's a great tale, on the other it's been so long since there was any real progression in the present day plot that my enjoyment of the backstory and connections has dwindled a bit. 



About the Author:


Things you might want to know:

Cameron writes books that he can't find elsewhere, basically to amuse himself. Everything Cameron does is for fun, so don't take him seriously. Never call him a writer. He hates that. He prefers the word: Storyteller, or the boy next door who claims he can tell stories.

If you like his books, horaaaay! He loves ya too. If ya don't, hoooray! Now we know in advance that this relationship isn't going to work.

Although his books are ordinary on the surface, they hold many secrets that he might reveal one day. What matters the most to him are characters struggling to find their identities and place in the world.

Things you don't need to know:

He celebrates his birthday twice a year, the day he was born and Friday the 13th. He wants to live in a bubble house. He is a damn good guitar player. He is damn good architecture college drop out. He likes boats, beaches, bears, beards, bananas, bars, barfights, beans, bikes, bones, butter, babes, bakery, blizzards, and pirates (he thought it was spelled Birates when he was a kid.)

And honestly, writing in third person sucks! It's so fake. 


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