The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag

Posted March 25, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

The Sisters Grimm

The Sisters Grimm

by Menna van Praag

Publisher: Harper Voyager on February 6, 2020
Genre: Fantasy, Magic, Portal Worlds
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★½

Check out this book on Goodreads

As children, Goldie, Liyana, Scarlet, and Bea dreamed of a strange otherworld: a nightscape of mists and fog, perpetually falling leaves and hungry ivy, lit by an unwavering moon. Here, in this shadowland of Everwhere, the four girls, half-sisters connected by blood and magic, began to nurture their elemental powers together. But at thirteen, the sisters were ripped from Everwhere and separated. Now, five years later, they search for one another and yearn to rediscover their unique and supernatural strengths. Goldie (earth) manipulates plants and gives life. Liyana (water) controls rivers and rain. Scarlet (fire) has electricity at her fingertips. Bea (air) can fly.

To realize their full potential, the blood sisters must return to the land of their childhood dreams. But Everwhere can only be accessed through certain gates at 3:33 A.M. on the night of a new moon. As Goldie, Liyana, Scarlet, and Bea are beset with the challenges of their earthly lives, they must prepare for a battle that lies ahead. On their eighteenth birthday, they will be subjected to a gladiatorial fight with their father’s soldiers. If they survive, they will face their father who will let them live only if they turn dark. Which would be fair, if only the sisters knew what was coming.

So, they have thirty-three days to discover who they truly are and what they can truly do, before they must fight to save themselves and those they love.


Disclaimer: I received this book for free from LibraryThing and Harper Voyager in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This was an unexpectedly beautiful book and exactly what i needed right now… and isn’t that a wonderful feeling?

The Sisters Grimm is loosely tied into the Grimm tales, nodding and given respectful referential treatment to stories like “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”.  It is it’s own magic world, playing upon the use of portals and shadow realms, where the barriers between worlds become thin and passable.  It is the legend of the daughters of wicked Wilhelm Grimm, and what doomed, incredible beings they are.

So, generally, I liked it.  I love the world.  I loved the details of the world – and those are the very best things, when a universe is created and instead of worrying about the landscapes, you have time to notice the color of the suitcases or the scratching of Liyana’s penas she sketches.  I never doubted the rules and limitations of van Praag’s magic system and her two separate worlds.  In general, the writing of it was beautiful, too.

Not all of this book was perfect for me.  For one, as with any book so reliant on world building, the pacing was incredibly slow.  This isn’t always a bad thing – in the right mindset, this become something to cherish rather than to slog through.  The Sister’s Grimm lures its readers in slowly, with a pied-piper’s tune, but then it ensnares you.

The writing is generally likable and easy to read, with a little magic and not too many flourishes, which I appreciated.  I have some mechanical nitpicks about the storytelling style that took me a little while to get used to – namely the POVs.  There are five POVs in The Sister’s Grimm, and they exist in two different timelines.  I would argue there’s also a sixth in the past/Everwhere strain written in the second person.  Goldie’s POV is written in first person, while the others are third.  Leo’s POV felt strictly unnecessary and was used for further world building.  This style is another reason that you really have to sit down and focus on reading The Sisters Grimm.  It’s not a light, quick read because f you start skimming, you’ll lose your place.  So that’s something to know.

As far as the characters go, I though they were all well-written in their way.  The only character I liked consistently through the book was Liyana, though Scarlet comes in at a close second for me.  Regardless of how much I enjoyed them, though, they’re all multi-layered, three dimensional characters that were interesting and different.  They were different colors for me, different elements, and I think Menna van Praag did an excellent job of crafting them.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a proper review from me if I didn’t take a moment to harp on the romance. I understand why the romance worked the way it did and why it was there, but I didn’t like it.  Every single one of the relationships felt stiff save for one of Bea’s, and three out of four were love triangles.  I wish the soldiers and character’s self-realization had been constructed a little differently, because reading the same type of stories in four/five different perspectives one after another was exhausting.

Still, as a general rule this was an enchanting story with layer upon layer to pick apart and enjoy.  It had some feel of The Rules of Magic but a more magical world.  The writing style feels like something akin to Erin Morgenstern or Alice Hoffman, and it was really enjoyable to read.  If you’re looking for an older YA / younger adult story of magical realism and sisterhood, this is an excellent read.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Writing: ★★★★
Pacing: ★★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★


The Sisters Grimm Stays on my Shelf!

Because of it’s beautiful writing style and the feeling that this is a world that could swallow me whole more than once, The Sister’s Grimm has earned its place on my shelf for a time.  I don’t think it’s one I would revisit often, but I do think I would enjoy revisiting it.  Also, it seems like the type of book where I may have a different experience if I sit on it for a while before re-reading it.


Which element do you think you would embody?  I’ve always felt like I’m an air-type, which actually lines up with my zodiac (I’m a libra).  Tell me which of the four main elements you think you would be, and why!

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