I guess the best way to summarise Grim would be “a cross between Gaiman and Trainspotting”.
Yeah, it’s a bit of a mind-bender right there. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the premise looked promising. I started to read – and just kept on reading. McCallion certainly makes it explicit from the get-go what you are getting into.
What to expect
Expect a magical-realism style of writing, with a fantastical element woven into every-day modern life in a seamless and well-executed world-building. This is the bit that reminds me of Gaiman — at least if Gaiman was using the F-word like a drunken Scotsman in love with scatological humour.
There are more or less 3 main plot lines that interweave and build together. McCallion skillfully jumps between them and between different times, to weave an engaging story. As events unfold and the mystery is slowly revealed, you’ll find yourself more and more engrossed (or grossed out by) the various characters.
What I liked
One cannot but like the narrator, with all her snide side commentary. The other characters have that perfect balance of being fully realised yet still somehow exaggerated and comical.
What to be aware of
As above, language and themes are adult in nature. While the tone is mostly humorous, there are unsavoury and downright creepy aspects to the story. Just like the movie Trainspotting was a bit harsh to watch, so can this novel be to read.
If you love witty stories, magical-realism for adults, and are not afraid of life’s uglier sides (i.e. if you enjoy reading Gaiman and liked watching Trainspotting), Grim is the dark-comedy book for you.