Grim Lovelies is my kind of fantasy: weird, dark, twisted, and magical, complete with (sort of) shapeshifting animals and a gothic feel.
Anouk is a beastie: an animal who was turned into a human by a witch. She and her fellow beasties are slaves for a powerful witch named Mada Vittora. But when Mada Vittora is murdered, Anouk and the other beasties must find a way to stay human before Vittora’s spell wears off.
I really enjoyed this book! It reminds me of a Frances Hardinge novel mixed with The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi. Shepherd’s writing flows well, and her dialogue shines on the page.
As with most books that I read, I loved the first half and liked the second half. I was worried that witches, spells, and goblins would feel too recycled, but I found the first half very original.
I liked the cast of characters, though I had a hard time visualizing some of them. Unless I missed it, Shepherd didn’t even write a full description of Beau until the end. My favorite character was Cricket, as she had the most stand-out personality.
I’m giving this book 5 stars because I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought it was done well, but like all books, it isn’t perfect. I really enjoyed Anouk’s character arc, and I loved her dynamic with the other characters. Shepherd also did a good job with worldbuilding and explaining the magic system.
I enjoyed how Shepherd weaved the Pretty world and technology with the magical world, and I liked the overarching theme of what it means to be human.
My only real critique is the way Shepherd handled the gay characters; their gender identity felt thrown in there just for the sake of it. I hope she handles the characters with more care in the sequel.
I also liked the ending, though I’m not sure I’ll like the sequel based on the description. I hope it proves me wrong!
VERDICT: 5 stars