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The Fairy-Tale Detectives (Sisters Grimm #1) by Michael Buckley

Updated on March 16, 2016

Sabrina and Daphne Grimm are wards of the state. Their parents disappeared and all that was found at the site of their disappearance was their empty car with a red paint handprint on the dashboard. Since the disappearance of their parents, the girls have been bouncing from Dickensian foster home to Dickensian foster home for eighteen months.

As this book opens, the girls may have found a permanent home. Despite the fact that the girls had been told that they have no living relatives, social services claims to have found their grandmother. And so it is with happiness on the part of social services and trepidation on the part of the girls, that Sabrina and Daphne are delivered to Relda Grimm in the Hudson River Valley town of Ferryport Landing.

Relda wastes no time in introducing her new granddaughters to her best friend, Mr. Canis, and her two-hundred-pound Great Dane, Elvis. And on their first full day in Ferryport Landing, she take the girls to investigate a mystery -- to find out what flattened a farmhouse.

Relda thinks that the house was stepped on by a giant, but that's not possible.

Is it?

Relda is surprised that the girls are skeptical about her tale. Once she realizes that they truly do not believe her, she tells the girls is that they are descended from Wilhelm Grimm, and "Grimm's Fairy Tales" is not fiction at all. It, just like many other tales of the fantastic, is a history book, and many of the subjects of the book are alive and well and living in Ferryport Landing. They call themselves "Everafters" and they share Ferryport Landing with an assortment of humans who have no idea that there are fairy tale characters living among them.

The tale, as Relda tells it, is that Everafters faced persecution in Europe. Wilhelm purchased land in the Hudson River Valley of New York and a ship, and brought those Everafters who wanted to make a new life for themselves to the United States. Eventually a group of Everafters began to make plans to invade the surrounding areas and take over nearest the human towns. Wilhelm couldn't persuade them not to invade, so he got one of the local witches, Baba Yaga, to put a barrier around the town, keeping the Everafters from leaving. Baba Yaga refused to put up the barrier unless the Grimms were trapped in town as well. Somehow, they ended up agreeing that one Grimm would have to remain in town at all times but that others could come and go.

"The Sisters Grimm" is a nine-book series, so there is a lot of continuity involved. Much of it is excellent. Some of the strings of this continuity are set up from the very first book. Buckley does a great job setting up the characters of Sabrina and Daphne, and there are clues to where things are going from the very beginning. There are also some continuity errors this early in the book. Several developments that will happen down the line make statements and events in "The Fairy-Tale Detectives" no longer make sense. Some may be explanable by other means, but there is definitely one plothole here. Something happens later on that contradicts something that happens in this book.

A note, as well, on the definition of "fairy tale" that Buckley uses. Buckley takes a very broad view of "fairy tale." Basically, any tale that has fantastic or extreme events such as magic, that comes from a place with European heritage and is in the public domain is fair game. Therefore, "Everafters" include Snow White and Cinderella, but also characters from the Alice books, Arthurian legend, the Oz books and so on. Mythological characters, such as Gilgamesh, Noah, and Guanyin are nowhere to be seen.


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