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Readers Advisory: Grim, edited by Christine Johnson

Harlequin Teen, $16.99 hardcover, ISBN-10 0373211082, February 2014

Inspired by classic fairy tales, but with a dark and sinister twist, Grim contains short stories from some of the best voices in young adult literature today.

Despite boasting a truly impressive author lineup that includes Malinda Lo, Claudia Gray, Sarah Rees-Brennan, Tessa Gratton, Ellen Hopkins, and Amanda Hocking, this anthology of fairy tale retellings misses more often than it hits. Several of the stories follow the original fairy tales so closely that readers would do just as well to read the originals. However, readers will find a few gems, such as Thinner than Water by Saundra Mitchell (The Vespertine series), a feminist yet still incredibly disturbing version of Donkeyskin, in which a princess cannot stop her own father from marrying and violating her but finds a way to turn her tragedy into power. Rees-Brennan (The Lynburn Legacy series) delivers big laughs in Beauty and the Chad, in which Beauty is an honorable maiden and the Beast is an enchanted frat boy who calls her “dude” and has very little idea what’s going on most of the time. The Brothers Piggett, a thorough restructuring and humanization of “The Three Little Pigs” by Julie Kagawa (The Iron Fey series), completely recasts the roles of victim and villain and adds a touch of werewolf for good measure.

Although several of the stories fall flat and anthologies can be a tough sell for teens, the overall collection may win readers over. However, be warned that the book contains mature content such as incestuous rape and mild homoerotic themes.

Recommend to: Fans of any of the authors in the book, fans of fairy tale retellings

To buy or not to buy: Not an essential purchase, but a good buy if you have the audience for it.

*This review refers to a digital ARC edition provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

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