Friday, December 26, 2014

Book Review: The Mythology of Grimm

The Mythology of Grimm
Published By: Berkley Trade
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Page Count: 368
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Adult - Nonfiction, Folklore

When Grimm made its debut, I was living in the Pacific Northwest. This is the perfect setting for Nick to be running around chasing various Wesen. The Pacific Northwest has such a gloomy mood to it than I always found myself daydreaming about what sorts of creatures might lurk among the evergreens. The region would be the perfect place for the paranormal and magical to reside. It is a place that will always have a bit of my heart. 

Once I moved back East, I found that the best way for me to stay connected with my beloved Pacific Northwest was through movies, tv, and fiction. While I have gotten off track watching Grimm, I hope to remedy that now that I can easily access past episodes digitally. I was interested to learn more about the folklore in the show. The Mythology of Grimm is a must for all the Grimm fans out there!

I found the opening chapter to be enlightening. I have always suspected that others collected folklore like the Brothers Grimm, but I have never spent time researching this assumption. The opening chapter focuses on the three main groups who gathered folklore and brought the stories into collections. The Brothers Grimm are perhaps the most recognizable. This German pair rose above poverty and social discrimination in order to rise through the ranks of higher education. They published their first collection in 1812. Lesser known to me were Charles Perrault and Joseph Jacobs. Perrault is the "French Grimm" who focused on fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. Jacobs is the "English" Grimm who published fairy tales from various cultures including English, Celtic, and Indian. I hope to look into stories collected by all three groups in the future. I am fascinated by the original versions of some of my favorite tales.

I couldn't help thinking about how interesting it was that people in various countries with different cultures were largely working with the same tales. I wanted to know how this came about and thankfully Brown does briefly discuss the theories on this concept. Most scholars of folklore in the time of Joseph Jacobs (mid-1800's) favored the polygenesis theory. This theory states that similar stories were found among differing cultures due to the universality of the human psyche. I can see why this theory holds weight. Cultures throughout the world differ greatly, but the human condition is largely the same. Joseph, on the other hand, supported the monogenesis theory. This theory stated that each story was a created by a single entity and that the story spread throughout different cultures. As the story was passed along, variations were added to suit the cultural norms and needs of the adopted culture. I can also see the validity of this theory. I'm not sure which theory I feel holds greater weight, but I would like to do further research to help me form a more solid conclusion.

While I found myself drawn to the history and theories in the opening chapter, the rest of the book is more focused on the mythology used in the tv show. Brown compiles various stories used in the show and highlights his retelling of the original work. I liked that there is ongoing commentary via the tasty morsels inserts throughout each chapter. I also liked the quotations from the show throughout the novel. I enjoyed working my way through the various chapters to gain more insight into the Grimm folklore. I am even more excited to jump back into the show after reading this one.

One complaint I have is that I found some sections more entertaining than others. That is bound to happen in a book of this sort. I preferred to linger with the chapters I enjoyed the most while quickly reading through the chapters that didn't hold my interest. I also was slightly irked when the author slipped into a more colloquial style of writing. It certainly fit the intended audience and provided some comedic relief, but I suppose I wanted more scholarly writing - especially after the first chapter.  These two minor issues didn't derail my overall enjoyment of this book.

One Last Gripe: The chapter on weapons was tedious for me, but I know others will enjoy it. In fact, my younger brother is excited to get his hands on this one to read that particular chapter. I preferred the stories and history.

Favorite Thing About This Book: The historical information

First Sentence: Once upon a time, there was a man who loved writing and mythology... and fandoms... and Grimm.

NBC’s hit television series Grimm pits modern detective Nick Burkhardt of the Portland Police against a cast of terrifying villains—lifted directly from the pages of classic fairytales. In the world of the show, the classic stories are actually a document of real events, and Nick himself is descended from a long line of guardians, or Grimms, charged with defending humanity from the mythological creatures of the world.
From The Big Bad Wolf to Sleeping Beauty, The Mythology of Grimm explores the history and folkloric traditions that come into play during Nick’s incredible battles and investigations—tapping into elements of mythology that have captured our imaginations for centuries.


  1. Sounds so interesting! I love looking into all the mythology and history of fairytales! This actually looks so interesting especially going through all the different cultures. I'll definitely have to put this one on the TBR list!
    Thanks for the review!

    1. It was an interesting read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. :)


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