Reviewed: May 31, 2010
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Grimm's Circle, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars
Disclosure: This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
The Grimm brothers have nothing on Shiloh Walker, who tells a mean tale. Literally. This grim twist on Grimm is original, unique, and interesting, and Walker has penned another dark, rich novella to start an exciting new series. So much urban fantasy and paranormal romance is based around the idea that there's always a kernel of truth in all folk lore and fairy tales, and Walker not only embraces that ideology, she slams into it, tackles it to the ground, and hog ties it until it does her bidding!
In Candy Houses, Greta and Rip are known to children everywhere as Gretel of Hansel and Gretel fame, and Rip as in Van Winkle, but neither one of the fairy tales and folk lore that surround them do more than glimmer at the truth. Greta, as she prefers to be called now, and Rip, didn't get anything resembling a happily ever after like the stories say. They got an immortal upgrade and were given wings, becoming a member of the Grimm, a group of guardian angels that are here to help humanity and save them from the myriad of dangers from other realms, demons, and other assorted nasties. Their wings are more metaphorical than actual, of course, but their skill is unmatched, and they're very hard to kill. They have to be. It's a dark, often lonely, deadly life that takes its toll on its warriors.
Greta and Rip worked together about a hundred years ago and after a night of passion that rocked both their worlds, Greta fled, and hasn't been able to stop thinking of Rip ever since. And Rip knows that he may not survive another encounter with Greta, the woman he loved and lost after far too brief a time all those years ago. Could the fact that they've ended up in the same city at the same time, fighting what turns out to be the same fight be a good omen for them both? Perhaps Happily Ever After isn't out of the question after all?
Candy Houses manages to develop both Greta's and Rip's characters with a surprising level of depth and complexity as well as provide a truly taut and tense plot that moves quickly even as it offers a lot of world building and mythos creation to start this series. I'm impressed again at Walker's ability to use what length allowed in her novellas to provide such a full reading experience, and I think the twist on the fairy tale idea is brilliant.
The only caveat (IMO) was the final conflict at the end. With all the development and mythos explanation, Candy Houses is still limited to a novella length story, and there seems to have been a sacrifice made. There were motivations and explanations that didn't get explained, and the conflict with Big Bad ended up being a lot of hype with little hazard. It was a little of a letdown. Still, points for everything Walker manages to accomplish in this nifty little novella and I've already downloaded No Prince Charming (Grimm's Circle, Book 2) so I can continue with these dark and delicious fairy tales.
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