When Elizabeth takes a job at the New York Circulating Material Repository she assumes it's just a normal library. She couldn't be more wrong. The Repository doesn't lend books, but objects, and some of those objects are decidely odd, especially those that come from the Grimm Collection. Soon enough Elizabeth learns that the Grimm Collection houses magical items, the actual objects mentioned in fairytales: the dancing shoes of the twelve dancing princesses and the talking mirror from Snow White, to name a few. As Elizabeth learns about magic, she also learns that someone has been stealing from the Grimm Collection, some of her co-workers have mysteriously disappeared, and there are rumors of a huge, fantastic bird seen winging around the Repository. Elizabeth doesn't want to believe that her fellow page, the handsome, popular Marc Merritt, could possibly be involved, but she's seen him borrowing magical items without permission. Another of the pages, the alluring Anjali, helps Marc cover his tracks, and soon they've got Elizabeth aiding in the deception too. She won't steal anything from the Grimm Collection, but she soon earns borrowing privileges. To take out a magical item, the borrower must leave a deposit--and not a cash deposit either. Leaving a firstborn child suffices, as does leaving one's sense of humor, one's beauty, or any other highly valued notion. Elizabeth borrows a mermaid's comb, leaving behind her sense of direction--with amusing results. The closer she gets to her fellow staff--Marc, Anjali, and the prickly Aaron, who suspects all of the others,--the less Elizabeth can believe any of them are thieves. When one of her friends disappears, Elizabeth and those left behind are determined to find the culprit.
I very much enjoyed The Grimm Legacy. Any librarian or library lover will appreciate the world of the Repository, and any reader who enjoys fantasy and magic will yearn for a place they too could check out magical objects. What was especially strong in this tale was the friendship/rivalry between the four teenagers. Shulman also adds in some endearing younger characters--Marc's baby brother, and Anjali's annoying younger sister. (Annoying to Anjali that is; I loved her.) I quite enjoyed the descriptions of the magical items, the drawbacks of using certain magic, and especially, the wickedness of Snow White's stepmother's mirror--an object that tells the truth but can twist it just enough to sow discord. If I have one complaint, it's that I wish the villains of the piece were a bit more frightening. They're not pussy cats, but they're not truly terrifying either. Still, that's a minor complaint in a book that enchants (no pun intended.) This book contains absolutely no naughty language and nothing more blush-worthy than kissing, so it's a good recommendation for readers looking for a wholesome but interesting adventure.