A fantastic debut from the winner of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards novel contest.
When Erika wakes up after a horrific car crash, she finds herself somewhere between earth and heaven, between life and death. She doesn’t want to accept help from Jeremiah, who she’s not sure she can trust, even as she finds herself drawn to him, following him into a grim city of souls. She’s not sure who wants to help her and who wants to hurt her. And she’s desperate to get back to her children.
Shawn’s never thought about having to shoulder the responsibility of caring for his young sister Megan and his reckless older sister. And he never imagined that the three of them would find themselves in a haunted wood, sometimes chased, sometimes assisted, never sure where they’re headed.
With Grim, the terrifically talented Anna Waggener delves into the place where myth becomes reality, where family can distort you as easily as it cares for you, where death and eternity meet.
So I confess, Grim is not a book I would have picked on my own had it not been for the fact that I was sent an unsolicited copy of this by Scholastic Canada (thanks!). But I am glad I read it because it is just so different from my usual choice in books. While it is true that the novel has paranormal elements to it, the main character is not a young adult but a mother who has been separated from her three children by a being (I can’t call him a man since he is not human) who causes her accident to fulfill his own need.
The physical novel is a beauty to behold. I must say that Scholastic books are all physically well crafted; the pages are well laid out, the fonts easy on the eyes and everything is just aesthetically pleasing. The novel itself is haunting, atmospheric and lyrical. At first I wasn’t too certain that the juxtaposition of what was so mundane and the paranormal would work for me but Waggener is gifted at portraying the grief of the children left behind and this grief bounces off the yearning of their mother who glimpses them every so often. It creates a bridge, slight though it may be, from the underworld to ours.
I did feel that the underworld that Erika exists in required a lot more explicit building than it got. I wanted to know more about it and I somehow wish that Waggener had spent more time on it than she did. It was just so fascinating reading about the hierarchy, the complicated relationships and the dynamics between the many different people present in that world.