“The Sisters Grimm: A Novel” by Menna Van Pragg— Love, Mystery, Magic and Fantasy

Van Pragg, Menna. “The Sisters Grimm”, Harper Voyager, 2020.

Love, Mystery, Magic and Fantasy

Amos Lassen

When they were children, Goldie, Liyana, Scarlet, and Bea dreamed of a strange otherworld where a nightscape of mists and fog, perpetually falling leaves and ivy are lit by a moon. This is the shadowland of Everwhere where the four girls, half-sisters connected by blood and magic, began to understand their elemental powers together. When they were thirteen, the sisters were ripped from Everywhere and separated. Five years have passed, they search for one another and hope 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.

In order to realize their full potential, they 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 deal with the challenges of their earthly lives, they must prepare for a battle that lies ahead. With 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.

The sisters 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. Goldie, whose perspective is the only one told in first person, is the sole caregiver for Teddy, her ten year old brother. She cleans rooms at a fancy hotel, taking things from its rich guests to help support him. Goldie has experienced significant trauma in her childhood.

Bea was raised in various foster homes while her mother was being treated at St Dymphna’s Psychiatric Hospital. She studies philosophy and feels t alive when she’s flying through the air in a glider. Liyana (Ana) was on track to be an Olympian before an injury changed her plans yet she remains at home in the water. Ana and her mother moved to London from Ghana when she was a child. Ana is an artist. She feels that, ultimately, all is right with the world, “no matter how hopeless it might seem at the time.”

Scarlet lives with her grandmother, Esme, whose health is rapidly declining. Scarlet the café owned by her family. She lost both her mother, Ruby, and her home ten years ago in a fire.

There are wonderful illustrations by Alastair Meikle. This is not the kind of book that I usually read but from the moment I began it, I was pulled in. The descriptions of Everwhere are delightful .  While Goldie and her sisters have forgotten who they are. and that they are powerful as their 18th birthday nears, they have to realize the truth behind their childhood fantasies and fight to survive. Menna van Praag brings many creative and original ideas  together in this story.

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