Sunday, December 19, 2010

HAPPY HUNKY-DAYS, DAY 7... Candy Houses

On the seventh day of Christmas,
my book club gave to me...
another hunky eye candeeeee!

I've been doing a lot of reading with my youngest son lately - two snow days and the start of Christmas vacation will do that to you! Since he let me choose the books the last few days, I decided to read some of the more traditional fairytales that I wasn't sure he really knew. It was fun - he thought some were scary - he thought some were sad - but in the end, he asked for a Suess book the next night. I agreed. I think we both had enough of those fairytales.

Now I assure you the fairytales I read to my son are far from the one I will review today. Do you think you know all there is to know about fairy tales? Guess again because the way Shiloh Walker tells them is nothing like I’d ever heard on Grandma’s lap.

Candy Houses (Grimm's Circle, book 1)Shiloh Walker’s Grimm’s Circle Series gives traditional fairytales an adult flair. Walker creates an alternate world in which the guardian angels are picked right out of the fairy tales from our childhood. We will be spending the week reviewing The Grimm’s Circle Series but since today is day one, we will start with book one…

The first book in the series, Candy Houses, tells the story of Greta and Rip. Sound familiar? Yep, they’re Gretel of Hansel and Gretel and Rip as in Rip Van Winkle. But you’ve never seen them like this. In this story, they have become Grimms, paranormal guardian angels whose job it is to protect ordinary people from the monsters and demons unknown to them in the world. Walker strings together an edgy plot with descriptive world building to establish the basis for the series while not losing site of her characters. She develops both primary characters with an unexpected level of complexity given how short the book is.

Greta didn’t get her happy ending her first time around. In Walker’s truth, she was actually the abused step-sister of Hansel, saved when she met a kindly woman living in a little cottage in the woods. Greta was given a second chance at a happy life as a Grimm. The problem is that romance is hard to find in her new world and when she does find the man who kick starts her heart, Rip, she’s scared right out of his arms. That was before and now Rip is back just in time to help Greta with a big mission.

Rip lives knowing he has been misunderstood for centuries because of his fairytale and hates the reputation that has preceded him. He has only found solace in the arms of one woman, Greta; but he’s avoided contact with her since she ran from him years earlier. So it is a shock when he crosses paths with Greta again while on a serious mission. As they come to terms that they need to work together to complete their missions, their relationship also becomes more solid.

A bit rushed at the end, the final battle of their mission did not seem as dangerous as the lead-up inferred and some character motivations were left unexplained. But I was happy Walker took the time to tell us how Greta and Rip’s love story played out.  And while the romance was lovely and the action was exciting, what I liked most was the twist on the fairy tale which I have to say is nothing short of brilliant. I mean, really, who sits around thinking this stuff up? Clearly Walker does!

That's 4 chocolate-dipped strawberries for this Candy House.
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