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Because I'm Batman

The Fairy-Tale Detectives  - Michael Buckley, Peter Ferguson I've been looking for a good series to dive into, something to temper the need to be in constant search of the next read. Unfortunately, I don't think this series will be the one, but not for the reasons you might think.

Characters: Sabrina is smart, determined and protective of her younger sister; she is almost as reluctant to accept the existence of magic as she is the existence of a grandmother (one her father said was dead), which leads to many chapters of stubborn rebellion. Daphne better hope she never meets a real kidnapper; she is a happy-go-lucky munchkin who is taken in by all the shinies in Gran's house and instantly accepts any and all oddities. Gran is ... like that fun, crazy aunt who has seen the world and brings you cool presents and ice cream. Canis, Puck, Jack, Charming et al are slightly over the top and clearly villains or friends from the start. I first thought the characters a little two-dimensional and juvenile ... then I remembered I was reading "juvenile fiction" and it stopped bothering me so much.

Romance: None.

Plot: After the strange disappearance of their parents and a brief, unhappy stint in the foster system, sisters Sabrina and Daphne are off to live with someone claiming to be their dead grandmother. The old woman makes oddly colored food, keeps far too many books (not possible) and believes in magic and fairy tale characters. Daphne loves it; Sabrina immediately plots escape. In the midst of investigating a mystery, Gran and Canis are kidnapped. The girls then must test their Grimm mettle to catch the crook and save their new family before it's too late.

The mystery was not overly complex, but it was enjoyable enough. Curiosity about how the author would incorporate more fairy tale characters is what really kept me turning the pages.

Conclusion: The true villain is revealed, the temporary alliance ends, Sabrina and Daphne have a new family and all is well in the land of make-believe. It's a little too neat of an ending. (There was potential for so much chaos!) Still, as an intro and setup for a series, not bad.

Final Verdict: Here's the tough part. Despite generally enjoying the book, it was still just okay for me: Sabrina's continued disbelief and harping on escape dragged down the first half of the story, and the second left a sour taste in my mouth because of all the fairy tale characters it introduced. I know I expressed curiosity about them, but the author's massive character dump at the ball showed nothing but greedy, selfish, possibly unfaithful, mean versions of characters whose stories I love. Certainly, these impressions could change down the line if the author stops and fleshes out the trapped citizens, but I don't think I'm interested enough, or enough of a gambler, to risk it. I love fairy tale retellings, but this one - not so much.

Still, recommended for younger readers who enjoy mystery and a twist on the familiar.