Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Problem Child - Michael Buckley

Michael Buckley's Sisters Grimm: The Problem Child is the third in the Sisters Grimm series (The Fairy Tale Detectives and The Unusual Suspects are the first two). In this third book, the Sisters Grimm, Sabrina and Daphne, are still on the trail of The Scarlet Hand, the group which has kidnapped their parents. In their attempt to rescue their parents, the sisters meet their Uncle Jake, of whom they had never heard before as their Granny Relda had previously arranged for everyone in Ferryport Landing to forget him after. One day, when he was a young man, he accidentally broke the spell that kept a deranged Little Red Riding Hood locked up in the asylum where she'd been kept since she arrived in America. Jake had undone the barrier spell that keeps the Everafters trapped in the town in order to allow a unspecified female Everafter whom his brother Henry (Sabrina and Daphne's father) loved, to get out of the town. Jake had left town after his father was killed trying to track down Red Riding Hood and her "pet" Jabberwocky, and Granny Relda used forgetting dust on everyone so they wouldn't remember that Jake had been able to undo the barrier spell, since the latter is the only thing that keeps the Everafters trapped in Ferryport Landing and stops them from waging war on humans. Unfortunately, Jake's still impulsive, rash and too quick to use magic, and he encourages Sabrina's interest in magic as well, unmindful of the fact that all magic has a price. And things nearly go badly wrong as a result of their combined addiction to magic.

It's not exactly clear who the problem child is in this book: first there is Red Riding Hood, who is clearly bonkers, as she's still suffering, centuries later, from the trauma of her own grandmother being eaten by the Big Bad Wolf, and her "pet" Jabberwocky is a destructive beast; then there's Sabrina, who's far too wilful for her own safety and once her uncle Jake introduces her to magic, via a powerful wand, she becomes even worse; and then there's Jake himself, who doesn't seem to have truly learnt his lesson from his own impulsiveness and, although he claims he wants to make up for what he did, he's as immature as ever.

I struggled with the second book in this series, when I read it last year, and I struggled with this one too, so I don't think I'll be reading any more of the series after this one. Not that they're not fun books - they're just not for me...

Sisters Grimm: The Problem Child is also available from It was a Cybils SF&F nominated book.


Anonymous said...

I was googling "sisters Grimm" and I came upon your post. Not to sound like a crazy person but I LOVE these books and I feel compelled to urge you not to give up on them. I'm a 43-year-old woman with no kids but I still love getting lost in the world the author's created!

As for why I was googling the books, I am dying to find out if they are ever going to be made into a movie. It just seems tailor made for someone like Spielberg.

Michele said...

I'm glad that you love them, but I'm sorry to say I don't. I didn't like the third one any more than the second, so I won't be reading the fourth. There are too many books out there by authors that I love for me to persist with these.