again with buckley’s grimm

on

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grimm7The Sisters Grimm: The Everafter War by Michael Buckley

Amulet Books, 2009

(306 pages, though not as long as this may sound)

This is a bit of a “to continue…” from my posting on the 24th of September. I wrote, in part, this:

Only a couple chapters in: not bad, keeps with the other 6 previous books in the series (which, we actually own–thank you Powell’s books and your supply of well-cared-for used books). I was thinking, however, that it must be exhausting to come up with clever ways to recap all your previous books and adventures along with reminding any new reader of a premise so carefully and fully laid out in the first two books of the series by the seventh book. One of the reasons it pays to have to wait between books? so the recap isn’t a skim read? And how to keep the adventures coming without feeling like the over-arching dilemma is being too-long stretched? I am curious to see how Buckley is going to pull this off, because this 7th book is a ‘to be continued…’, again (which, incidentally, made Natalya groan).

It is not that I am going to be eating my words now that I have finished reading The Sisters Grimm: The Everafter War. I am merely going to contemplate the question I had asked previously: How is Buckley going to pull of another book in a lengthening series (that isn’t a “chapter book” series like the infinite Mary Pope Osborne and her Magic Tree House)?

The recap is a skim read. I knew that when I wrote the other day. What about that over-arching dilemma? Buckley solves a portion of it, the portion the readers are most greedy for: Who is the Master of the Scarlet Hand? I think I will have to read straight through the books (as I did 1-6) up through 7 just to consider the plausibility as to who the Master turns out to be. It initially felt like a stretch, despite the explanations offered. Still thinking about this one.

After the first few chapters, the story gets going and Buckley does as well as he does in the past, paralleling the conflicts of the book’s specific adventure with the internal, or inter-familial, conflicts of Sabrina Grimm; I find this to be one of the authors greatest strengths. He is also incredibly consistent with his characters, which may be why I am a bit befuddled with the Master’s identity. It may be that book 8 will provide greater clarity.

As for book 8, Buckley returns to a unanswered mystery from book 6 at the end of 7. If you are reader of the series, you know the time line is small, book 6 ends the day before book 7: fortunately the books recognize this to explain away any developments that may seem too fast, or too slow.

That groan over the “to be continued…” is one of double frustration. Again, “happily ever after” is denied (though the book questions the idea to begin with), and second, the ending pulls you into wanting to the read the next book to find out what happens—if you have the energy for it.

This is a series that I think either hooks you with the characters, or with the adventures. I am a huge fan of Puck, and I find his interactions with Sabrina amusing. Natalya stomachs Sabrina, but thinks Daphne is wonderful. Honestly, Daphne is fairly flat, and completely dull. Her existence truly serves Sabrina’s characterisation: and that isn’t a bad thing to do—writerly, actually. It may be argued that Daphne undergoes change, but those changes feel a bit forced; and in that they merely serve to illuminate Sabrina’s change. Though a difficult character, Sabrina carries the series forward, as a good protagonist (and sometimes antagonist) should do. If Daphne were the main character, moving the stories, this would be a serial of picture books for four-year-olds you find amusing but hope to not read more than once or twice.

The end of 7 leaves room for more than one “to be continued…” which makes me a bit anxious. This begs the question: Why should I want to see such an entertaining and imaginative series end? It isn’t that I do, but I wouldn’t mind it…I like the happy endings—everything turns out, if not all right, reasonably well in the end. Maybe it is the times.

~Leslie

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