ARC Review: Grim edited by Christine Johnson

GrimGenres: Re-tellings, Anthologies, Young Adult
Release Date: February 25th, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Source:  ARC from Netgalley
Check out on GOODREADS

Inspired by classic fairy tales, but with a dark and sinister twist, Grim contains short stories from some of the best voices in young adult literature today:

Ellen Hopkins, Amanda Hocking, Julie Kagawa, Claudia GrayRachel Hawkins, Kimberly Derting, Myra McEntire, Malinda Lo, Sarah Rees-Brennan, Jackson Pearce, Christine Johnson, Jeri Smith Ready, Shaun David Hutchinson, Saundra Mitchell, Sonia Gensler, Tessa Gratton, Jon Skrovon


This is definitely one interesting collection of tales and I have to say, I definitely enjoyed it on the whole. I’ve had my ups and downs while reading this, but generally, it was pleasurable reading most of these stories. Of course, there are quite a few for which I didn’t know the original tale on which the retelling was based, so I wouldn’t be able to compare and contrast the original with the retelling, but to me they were all unique in their own ways even if not all of them were enjoyable.

The Key

This short story wasn’t as creepy as I would have imagined it to be, but it sure as hell was fun. After finishing it, I was left with a lot of questions, but the open ending is also something that works for this story. It was enjoyable, but I wouldn’t complain if there had been more to give us a better idea of what was going on.


This one wasn’t scary so much as it was sweet. The characters were all interesting and I definitely enjoyed reading it. I don’t know what else to say in all honesty, because the story left me with such a huge smile on my face. It reminded me of when I was a kid and it kind of just makes me want to give a group hug to all my soft toys (I still have most of them!). Definitely worth it.

The Twelfth Girl

This short story definitely had the eerie like quality to it that can make your heart beat faster and can make you want to crawl under the covers, but at the same time, I also felt something was missing.  I am not sure what exactly, but I felt like there could have been more – something that would have made the pieces click. Overall though, fun story.

The Raven Princess

This story was slightly different from the others, and I’d say a little silly as well. While I did like it, I was more tempted to roll my eyes than not after finishing it. It was just so childish in some ways and reminded me of the kind of fairy tales your parents read to you at bed time (even if this is a retelling).

Thinner than Water

While the story is good, I did not enjoy it. I was repulsed by the idea and couldn’t begin to wrap my head around it. Incest makes me incredibly uncomfortable (like it would most people) and it was just so hard to swallow no matter the outcome so I couldn’t enjoy this story. I have to say though; it IS grim and well written and has a great story arc considering that it’s only a short story.

The Rose Bloomed

Weird writing style aside (at first I thought it was the formatting but it turns out that’s how the author writes), the story was enjoyable but at the same time there was no spark to it. It was fun, quick, and sweet, but it lacked something that would make it stand apart and make it more than just likeable, something that would make it memorable. Sadly though, it lacked that spark and so while I enjoyed it, there wasn’t much to it.


Rather incomplete, I’d think. When it ended my first thought was its over? Already? I loved reading it (not surprising since I love Beauty and the Beast) but I wouldn’t say it was particularly grim and because of its short length it left a lot to be desired. Still, I loved the author’s writing style and was thoroughly engrossed in this tale.

The Brother’s Piggett

Holy guacamole! This was a grim take on the Three Little Pigs. I actually kind of expected that twist but at the same time I was still taken a back. I have to say, this one really fits well in this collection because it is so grim. In fact it’s almost like everyone was a villain in their own way. With that said, I cannot really find any faults in this tale, it was a short story and it worked well as one.


I LOVE the writing style and the weird twist in the end took me by surprise. I ended up going back to read the story and wow.  I like. I really do like. I am definitely reading more stuff by this author in the future. I just hope it’ll be as gorgeous as this short story was.


Uhh, yeah. I didn’t like this one. It has an interesting sci-fic setting so there is that, but I feel like that it was more of a drawback instead of an advantage for this fairy tale. I mean it does give it a unique feel but at the same time, it feels less like a fairy tale.  I also didn’t like the ending. The ending did not work for me in the least and really bothered me. Oh well.

Light it Up

This one was SO good. I really loved the relationship between Greta and Hansen and I think the author really did do a good job with this re-telling. In spite of its shortness, there is a well defined story arc and I felt pretty satisfied in the end.

Sharper than a Serpent’s Tongue

I found this story to be somewhat insufficient. There are still some things I don’t understand and I think because of the shortness of it, there are quite a few chunks that just seem to be missing. It’s not developed really well to be honest and I just wish there was more. I think this might have been more interesting as a full length-novel.

A Real Boy

This story was ridiculous, but I never really disliked it. Not that I liked it, but I didn’t dislike it either. I just thought it was annoying. The romance was pretty meh, and it did have an insta-feel to it. I mean it is a short story but at the same time, the romance really rubbed me in the wrong way. So did the main character. Even with a short story like this, I could not get behind the main character. I did not like her in the least and I wonder if this story would have been better as a novel rather than a short story. It would mean there would be more room for development which this story seems to lack in my opinion.

Skin Trade

I don’t even know how to describe this story. It was just incredibly weird and not in a good way. My face kind of looked like this…

… after finishing this short story. I don’t even know. It’s less creepy and more question mark inducing.

Beauty and the Chad

This was the most adorable story ever. It puts a twist on the original Beauty and the Beast where the beast is a modern day frat boy who has been transported to a different time and Beauty dresses up like a dude (if you’ve read this anthology and this story you’ll get this) to help Beast out with his horses. I was laughing the whole time I read reading this story and I could tackle hug Sarah for writing someone so entertaining and so hilarious and SO ORIGINAL!

The Pink

I don’t actually know where to start with this one. I liked the story, but I felt like it was underdeveloped. Reading it left much to be desired in terms of development. Some may say it’s hard to achieve such with short stories, but it’s hard to believe that in this case seeing the other stories in this anthology were able to grow and develop their characters.

Sell Out

This one did not end this collection with the bang one would have hoped for. I am kind of disappointed, in all honesty. All that from a painting? Really? Or did I miss something? It seemed way too rushed and therefore was a huge disappointment, considering that I’ve heard tons of praise about the author’s other works.


The weird thing about this collection is that not all the stories were grim, in spite of what the title of this collection might suggest, but this didn’t stop me from enjoying some of the funner ones. Figment was one of my favorites if not my favorite because in spite of the lightness of it, it just made me want to be a kid again and even thinking about it brings happy tears to my eyes. The Key was also another noteable one for me because there was just something about the way Hawkins wrote it that just made my heart beat faster. The Brothers Piggett was one that definitely caught my attention. It was bursting with originality and put such a unique spin on the original tale and I just adored it. Untethered really got me in the feels though. It was gorgeously written.

As you can tell, this collection will make you laugh, make you feel nostalgic, scare you and perhaps gross you out. It is such an interesting collection of tales and in spite of the fact I didn’t love every single one of these, it’s a collection worth reading.

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Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).


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  1. says

    Skin Trade, my face pretty much looked like that too. I mean, what the eff was that! It’s not just dark, it’s pretty sick actually. Figment was by far my favorite too, parts were so sad and I started to get really emotional. Go figure. Awesome review <3
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    • Rashika says

      I KNOW RIGHT? To me it wasn’t even dark it was just something that made me go ‘what the hell?’. It was weird and sick and I didn’t even understand the whole point. Omg I TOTALLY got emotional reading Figment too.

      Thanks, Kelly <3

  2. says

    Oh, this is that book you told us about the other day. :)
    Not something I would pick up, but I am happy to hear that you enjoyed it. I love retellings but more I’m the term of full length novels.

    Great review, darling!
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    • Rashika says

      Anthologies are fun though! :P Quick reads I’d say! :D But I feel you. I am not that big on anthologies either… I do read short stories but reading them as a part of an anthology can be slightly awkward for me .-.

      Thanks Glass!! :DDD

  3. says

    The collection as a whole was quite good, some more weird, some I couldn’t identify and some that were just meh…
    I also loved Beauty and the Chad, it made me laugh so much!!
    And despite the horrible theme, I thought Thinner Than Water was fantastic… it made me feel so much!
    Great review, Rashika!
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    • Rashika says

      I actually couldn’t identify quite a few but Larissa’s review was quite helpful and mentioned which tales the individual stories were a re-tellling of. :’)

      I KNOW RIGHT? I was reading it out loud to my sister at points and while she didn’t get it I was dying of laughter!

      I am so glad you were able to enjoy it plenty more than I was!! :)

      Thanks, Pili!! :D

  4. says

    I have a copy of this and I’m slowly reading one story at a time if I don’t know what to read or something. I’ve only read the first three though and already I can tell it’s going to be a little bit hit and miss. I really liked Figment too! I’m really looking forward to Light it Up and Beauty and the Chad now.
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    • Rashika says

      That’s the best way to read these.. or to read them RIGHT before you go to bed, that way, you’ll have a perfect bed time story :)

      From what I’ve heard, that’s the case with all anthologies, some stories will be a hit and others a miss.

      I hope you enjoy those, Oliva!! :D

  5. says

    Great review! I’m impressed that you remembered all the stories enough to write a review on them :) I probably wouldn’t have. I love retellings and I think I spied this at my school library, so I might pick it up. Considering I’m WRITING a retelling it might be helpful. Also, I’ve generally enjoyed short story anthologies :)
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    • Rashika says

      HAHA nothing embarrassing about that. I wrote reviews for each of the stories as I read them so I would remember things. I was so NOT in the mood to take notes on each individual story :P I wanted to enjoy them all :)

      I hope you do pick this one up and end up enjoying it, Emily!!! :)

  6. Larissa says

    I read this one awhile back and gave a overall rating of 3.5! There were some I totally loved, while others fell flat.

    I enjoyed The Key too! The plot twist at the end really did throw me for a loop. The Twelfth Girl and The Raven Princess fell flat for me though. They just seemed underdeveloped and didn’t interest me. I actually LOVED Thinner than Water, even though the subject matter is obviously horrendous. It definitely made me uncomfortable, which was the point. It provoked me, made me feel disgust, anger and sadness. Honestly I couldn’t stand Before the Rose Bloomed. I never finished it. The prose just didn’t work for me, it read as normal writing and seemed unnecessary. I couldn’t find the rhythm and it just annoyed me. This was amplified since I adored the main character. The Brother’s Piggett was also a favorite of mine. Really couldn’t stop reading it, and was holding my breath during the whole conclusion wow. HAHAHAHA. Omg wasn’t Skin Trade so strange?? O.o Found myself bored and skimming until the end, then was like WAIT WAIIIT WTF!? Not enjoyable by far.

    YES <33 Beauty and the Chad! I loved that story and was actually shocked when others reviewed it and found many faults with it. It really did seem so original and definitely was so humorous (: Sometimes I find Beauty and the Beast retellings boring, and that definitely wasn't the case with this one.

    Lovely review Rashika! It reminded me of all of the short stories again c:

    • Rashika says

      HA I saw your review for this one and it was SUPER helpful! Especially since you listed what the original tale was called… I spend a lot of time on wikipedia while reading this collection :P

      They definitely weren’t as well developed as they could have been but they were so cutesy .. I just really had fun reading them.. although The Raven Princess did end up falling slightly flat for me .-. Thinner than Water was a greaaat story, I just couldn’t overlook my discomfort .-. I can be really nitpicky about these sort of things *hides*

      I KNOW RIGHT? The prose was super annoying but I drudged through it and kind of got used to the writing (or used as I can get given the length) and it ended up being pretty decent. Nothing earth-shattering but it was nice. I was really distressed by how they kept on saying Finland woman… umm what? FINNISH IS THE WORD YOU USE *rages*

      Skin Trade was WEIRD. Like WTF? I read Hourglass by the author and liked it so I thought I would have better luck than everyone else did but …. I didn’t :P

      ME TOO! COMMON. A Frat Boy transported to this fantasy world? And some of the things he just said made me want to tackle hug him. HE WAS SO ADORABLE. And it was so hilarious when he would get all hurt when she called him beast *dies*

      Thanks Larissa!!! :D

    • Rashika says

      There are, aren’t there! Like I’ve heard of ALL of these authors (well almost all :P but I’ve encountered their books!). Thinner Than Water is… heavy to say the least. The ending is great but.. some of the things will make you uncomfortable. .-.

  7. says

    OCh! I loved Thinner than Water(although it made me sooooooooo uncomfortable) but I just loved the ending where she goes on to wage a war on her own kingdom with the held of her neighbors. And the Piggets! That little pig was such a crybaby and it was so subtly creepy. I’m sad you didn’t like the ones I did;_; but Sarah Rees Brennan! HELL YEAH! I wanted so much more of that story!!!!!!
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    • Rashika says

      That was actually pretty awesome. SEEE I loved the story but at the same time I didn’t. I could appreciate the little things that were happening but I was too uncomfortable to love the story on the whole.

      The little pig WAS a cry baby but isn’t that kind of surprising the way things turned out?

      ME TOO!!! I would have loved reading more.. :D

  8. says

    I dislike reading short stories because more often than not they are underdeveloped when it come to characterizations. That being said, I’m intrigued by Brother’s Pigget! I’ve always thought there was something weird about the three little pigs story and this short story looks like a lot of fun.
    I’m glad you had fun with some of these, Rashika! :)
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    • Rashika says

      I love reading short stories or novellas (although I think this is my first anthology) because the best way to cheat on your GR reading goal :P And Nick, The Brothers Piggett is EPIC. I seriously hope you read that one if not the whole collection (I have no idea how you would do that though .-.)

    • Rashika says

      Check out Larissa’s review, she mentions what each tale is a re-telling for so that might be helpful :) And I haven’t read many anthologies but I do have to say, as far as I am concerned, this was a pretty damn fine collection of re-tellings! :)

      Thanks Ella!!! :)

  9. says

    I am usually not a fan of collections of stories. I always find that I either want more of one books or less than another one. Also if I hate one story, I usually end up skipping!

    One that I like the look of are The Brothers Piggett, Beauty and the Chad and The Key. TBP looks so creepy! :)

    I am glad you enjoyed this one! All the stories look pretty good so I may have to give it a chance! :) Thanks for sharing!

    Alex @ The Shelf Diaries
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    • Rashika says

      I know a couple of people skipped certain stories and read others and I think that there were more enjoyable stories than not so this one would be worth it! TBP wasn’t exactly creepy but it was just shocking when things took that turn, even if I wasn’t particularly surprised I was still.. surprised. That’s a little confusing but you’ll get it :P

      Thanks, Alex!! :)

    • Rashika says

      I’ve only read this anthology but I gather that’s what it must feel like reading them.
      Thanks!! :)

  10. says

    Oh i didn’t know Grimm was a collection of short stories! I’ve seen the cover popup here and there every once in a while but i never paid much attention to it. I’m glad you were able to enjoy quite a few of the stories in this one. That one that was just weird has me intrigued LOL i kind of what to check this one of the library just for that story!
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    • Rashika says

      HAHAHAH if you’re talking about Skin Trade, that’s how I felt too and then I got around to reading it and felt the same way as everyone else!

      I do hope you end up enjoying the rest if you end up checking this out! :)

    • Rashika says

      Fairy Tale re-tellings are always the best! :D So fun to read about too when you get to compare the re-telling and the original fairy tale and see how masterfully the author incorporated the aspects of the original tale into the re-telling!

      I do hope you enjoy it if you end up checking it out, Heidi!! :)

  11. says

    I actually have this on my kindle but have not read it yet so I skimmed your review a bit but I’m glad you enjoyed this overall. I imagine I would have the same feelings for this like you, I would my favorites and the okay ones but I think this is a great way for me to discover authors that I’ve always wanted to try out. I think I will actually read this next. I’m into dark and gloomy reads lately and this may not all be Grim, but your review is pushing me to finally pick this up! Thanks Rashika :)
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    • Rashika says

      It IS! I mean I discovered some whose books I’ve only come across but never felt the urge to read and after reading their short stories, I really wanted to read their books! :D

      HAHAHA I do hope you end up picking this up.. plus you can go slow and read a story a day whenever you have time! :D

  12. says

    My only interest in this antholgy would have to be Julie Kagawa because her Blood of Eden series just proved that she does a pretty good job of writing grim stuff. But yeah, I just wish anthologies would be perfect perfect. No unsatisfactory short stories or stories that don’t fit with the theme and etc.

    But anyway, it’s nice that you enjoyed it!
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    • Rashika says

      Haha I don’t think that’s possible because it’s like reading a bunch of books (except they aren’t).. you cannot love everything. *sigh*

      I am not a fan of what I’ve read by the author (the iron fey series) but her short story has won me over and I am excited to read Blood of Eden! :)

  13. says

    Thanks for reviewing this one! I’ve been curious about it, though I tend to avoid short story collections – or pick between them. I’m glad you went through them all so I can get a sense of each of them. I couldn’t do the incest either, was that in the original tale? I’m not sure about a collection of grim tales, but it definitely fits the theme. And I know that we’ve watered down a lot of the original tales in our modern world. Like the little pigs, the first two get eaten, so curious how that one plays out. I’m sad the Beauty and the Beast one felt incomplete. I also need to go through and look up who wrote each story!
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    • Rashika says

      I am not sure because I haven’t read the original one but from the other reviews I’ve read, it does seem like it was? HAHAHA I am actually glad we have watered them down. My childhood would be a nightmare otherwise. I mean can you imagine having some of the original endings in the disney movies??? :P

      Ohhhh, Lauren, you’re going to love the little pigs one, it was PRETTY AWESOME. :D

      I hope you enjoy this anthology when/if you get around to it, Lauren!! :)

  14. says

    Fairytale-retelling is my cup of tea, so I’m really excited after reading your review! I see names of authors I really adore as well: Ellen Hopkins?? Claudia Gray?? YES PLEASE! <3 I like the title of The Raven Princess, too bad it was not as interesting as the others. I think the incest story may make me squirm all over as well. I have read some books dealing with the issue, and when it's not handled carefully… well, it's simply a weird read. The Brother’s Piggett sounds very interesting! I have never read any Three Little Pigs retelling, so I'm very curious about that one.

    Wonderful review, Rashika! <3 Although some stories are rather bland for you, I'm glad you found some gems in the book. :)
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    • Rashika says

      yeah when it comes to incest, things can get a little tricky since it’s such a delicate issue and if it’s not handled right, people could be offended. I wasn’t offended though, I just felt awkward and I felt like it might not have been such a good idea to have that in a short story where there isn’t enough room to explore the issue.

      This was my first re-telling of the Three Little Pigs and I had no idea it could be done so well. It was so original and the twist… pretty awesome I’d say!

      Thanks Hilda!!! <3

    • Rashika says

      Aww I am sorry you didn’t like Beauty and the Chad but I can see why. I KNOW RIGHT? It seemed so out of place in YA and I felt like because it was a short story it wasn’t even able to explore it in a way that would have made me at least slightly comfortable *sigh*

      Thanks Jeann!! :)

  15. says

    Have you ever considered writing an ebook or guest authoring on other websites?
    I have a blog based on the same ideas you discuss and would really like to have you share
    some stories/information. I know my audience would value your work.
    If you’re even remotely interested, feel free
    to send me an e-mail.
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