A few of you may have read my (rather scathing) review of the last Grimm novel to be released, called The Chopping Block by John Passarella. When Nina let me know there was another book coming out I had trepidations. But I love me some Grimm, so I decided to give the books another shot.
I’m so glad I did. This was a fascinating read that really roped me in from the start, and kept me guessing. A story that involves someone being replicated can be very predictable, or simply frustrating, but I was pleased that the author decided not to lean too hard on the confusion of identities. Instead he added another layer of threat to the story: a disease that causes wesen to woge uncontrollably, eventually succumbing entirely to their animal nature.
The creature in this story is one that we haven’t seen yet on the show, called a Wechselbalg. This particular form of wesen does not have its own identity; from the moment it is “born” it copies the form of another living creature exactly, from its physical appearance to its memories, and destroys the original creature in the process. An extremely fascinating aspect of this story is seeing things from the Wechselbalg’s perspective; rather than simply making the creature some heartless mimic that enjoys destroying lives, the author delved into the idea of this wesen having no identity of its own. The loneliness, the feeling of never truly belonging anywhere, of always almost being someone real but not quite… it was actually heartbreaking. I found myself feeling for this villain, and it didn’t feel contrived or manipulative. Top that off with the fact that this creature was over three hundred and suffering from the onset of dementia, and it made for a really complex wesen villain, which we haven’t seen all that much of from this show.
Going in, I expected the main thrust of the story to be that there was a double of our hero running around somewhere causing trouble. Surprisingly, that plotline almost took a backseat to the side-effect of Nick being copied without being killed: a hormonal imbalance that affects other wesen around him and makes them woge without the ability to return fully to human form. Some of the reactions to the hormone overdose were almost funny, the tension erupting in unexpected ways between characters that usually got along. But there was one particularly disturbing scene between Monroe and Rosalie where the author makes it very clear that they would absolutely kill each other, and enjoy doing it. Two characters who normally would give their lives to protect each other suddenly trying to slit one another’s throats was definitely upsetting, and got the point across: this “disease” is nothing to fuck with.
Overall I felt like this was a great story that went in unexpected directions and explored some interesting questions about memory and identity. The writing flowed well and the dialogue felt real, unlike the last book in which it was painfully stilted and stiff. And there were some genuinely funny moments that made me laugh out loud (the “Mr. Caffeine” joke with Wu really got me for some reason), which isn’t easy to do. The one criticism I have was that it could have used better editing; there were a surprising number of typos for something professionally published. But I was hooked from start to finish, and I would love to see this brought to life on television. Thanks, Tim Waggoner, for giving me more of the Grimm I love so much.