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Magic and Other Misdemeanors (Sisters Grimm #5), by Michael Buckley
I know where the series has been, and, having read this series before, I know where it goes after this. It's been a while since I read this series, though, so I'm only pretty sure that I know what happens in this book. Also, there is one character who turns out to be important to the overall arc of the series who hasn't been introduced yet. We're something like 2/3 of the way through this series by now. I hope we meet him (or her) soon.
I was right. About the plot. As to the character, I'll have to wait until later in the series to tell you if I was right about that one.
"Magic and Other Misdemeanors" has two or three plots, depending on how you split them up. The book opens with a training session. Puck has been helping Granny Relda train the girls in avoiding capture. After a particularly grueling session which ends with someone covered in smelly, frozen goo, the girls have to get ready for a party. Unfortunately, this party is not just a social occasion. The guests are all characters who have knowledge of sleeping spells. She is hoping that the guests will bounce ideas off of one another and they will come up with the solution to Henry and Veronica's situation.
Unfortunately no one comes up with any solutions. Worse yet, the next day, complaints start coming in. You see, by the next morning, three of the guests have had items stolen. The Wand of Merlin has been stolen from Baba Yaga; Morgan le Fay's Wonder Clock has gone missing; and Frau Pfefferkuchenhaus has had a vial of water from the Fountain of Youth taken.
Meanwhile, the Grimms have other things on their minds. Mayor Heart has decided to get rid of all of the humans in Ferryport Landing. To that end, she is levying very steep property taxes. Granny Relda has been presented with a bill for $150,000. The third plot involves Sabrina thinking that she may be losing her mind. One night a freak storm blows up and when she looks out the back door, she sees Uncle Jake being fatally shot by an arrow. She is upset by this, but then Jake emerges from the house, perfectly fine.
I found the property tax plotline to be kind of frustrating, since it seems to me that there would be an easier solution to the situation. Tell the humans about the Everafters and then have Everafters buy the humans' homes and rent them back to them with 99-year leases. Snow could, for example, buy the Grimms' house for $10,000. Then, over the next 99 years, the Grimms would pay her back those original $10,000. That works out to $8.41 per month in rent. Any humans who didn't want to live among fairy tale creatures could take the forgetful dust and leave town.
I don't think it would be too much of a spoiler to tell you that time is involved in the main mystery, since two of the three things stolen have ties to time. Now, one has to be careful when writing about time, since if one is not careful, one may end up sticking one's characters in a temporal paradox. I'm pretty sure that's not exactly what happens here, but in what I think may have been Buckley's attempt to avoid a paradox, we do end up with a huge plothole. I will be including a spoiler capsule below to lay out what the plothole is and why I found it so frustrating. There's also one scene where, unless I've misread five times (I went over the scene twice on my final readthrough to see if I was missing anything) where something happens in one paragraph and the event is undone another paragraph on the next page.
What follows is a spoiler. I am going to not only discuss the above-mentioned plothole, but reveal the solution to the mystery. If you do not want to know who stole the objects, do not read any further.
The Sabrina and Daphne from the future tell present-day Sabrina and Daphne that they never solved the mystery of who took the objects from Baba Yaga, Morgan le Fay, and Frau Pfefferkuchenhaus, since they were too busy trying to find the money to pay the taxes. In our timeline, however, the tax problems were relatively easily solved.
Additionally, there are the rifts. I think that it's safe to conclude that none of the rifts that are plaguing Ferryport Landing in this book happened in future Sabrina and Daphne's world. Future Sabrina said that she never saw future Jake being killed, and neither of them remember having come to their own futures like Sabrina and Daphne did. And if the rifts had been occurring, even if they hadn't been able to put the clues together, all they would have had to have done is gone to the site of that final one to find Tom and the mice on the roof, which would have solved the mystery. There are two possible solutions to this conundrum. One, it's a plothole. Two, future Sabrina and Daphne were from some kind of parallel timeline. Something happened in between the thefts and the appearance of the first rift to stop the rifts from happening at all in future Sabrina and Daphne's timeline. If the future characters are from a parallel timeline, were the things that came to them from the past also from parallel timelines?
Also, the event that happened and was undone was the melting of the broadcast tower. The book says, that when the dragon was shooting fire, its first blast, "hit the transmitting tower and it fell over like a child's toy. Its steel girders melted and poured all over the roof." Yet, in a later paragraph, the tower "began to roll towards the time hole." How can it roll when it's a puddle? Sloshing, maybe, or if the metal had cooled enough to become solid, maybe it could be pulled, but it definitely does not seem likely that it would roll.