Book review—New Grimm tie-in novel stretches the boundaries

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Grimm the TV series is “grim” to the extent of its various Wesen creatures—some stars of the show like Monroe and Rosalie and the villainous Adalind—as they woge into the faces of a horror movie special effects artist’s dream project.  Strange murders and other crimes from their dark fantasy world come across weekly on NBC with a footing in the reality of a Portland, Oregon police precinct.  But there is an equal balance of humor that can often make you forget the show is so dark.  The comic book spin-off of the series, reviewed here at last year, allows Nick, Hank, and Monroe to venture off to locations too expensive for a network TV series.  The tie-in Book of Lore highlights the fictional monster culture behind the series stories.  Now a new tie-in novel takes the darkest elements of the TV series even further, to more horrific places that could never make it to network TV.

Bram Stoker Award winning horror author John Passarella takes on the Grimm universe with a new criminal element in Grimm: The Chopping Block, a new paperback novel just released. It’s The Freshman meets Silence of the Lambs meets Fat Tuesday. The remnants of boiled human bones are turning up in multiple places around Portland.  And the victims have nothing in common.  It’s not long before Detectives Nick Burkhardt and Hank Griffin, along with Captain Renard and Sergeant Wu, discover that what the victims don’t have in common says all they need to know about the true nature of the crime.

Grimm The Chopping Block

Humans become livestock under the knives of a Wesen butcher.  Any reader may go along with our favorite character Monroe by book’s end and go Vegan.  Be prepared for descriptions you’d find in any meat-packing plant or Food Network series, only with an unusual meat substitute.  Food prep takes on new meaning.  And the story features a dinner event that The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover only scratched the surface with.

For Nick and Hank, it’s a quest to find the worst serial killer they could ever dream up.

For Monroe, a quest to confirm his decision to live a non-traditional lifestyle, for a Wesen.

For Juliette, it’s a chance to deal with the new world of the Grimm and Wesen she has only recently been introduced to.

The horror scenes are something out of a Stanley Kubrick movie–a macabre, dizzying feast of violence.  Yet Passarella manages to keep one foot squarely in the reality of a police procedural.  The suspense is the better part, more detective work like you’d find in one of those dark and twisted films starring Clint Eastwood—his later work, that is. Think The Dead Pool. True Crime.  Blood Work.  Yet it has its shockers, some maybe over the top.  Creepy stuff that will make your skin crawl.

More down to Earth scenes in Grimm: The Chopping Block finally show Juliette beginning to use her veterinary knowledge in the Grimm universe, yet Passarelli, like the writers from the TV series, have yet to do what should be obvious—let Juliette use her knowledge of animals to solve problems for these animal-rooted Wesen.  Passarelli also uses his skill at writing tie-in novels (he’s written them for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural) to demonstrate he knows the Grimm characters’ actions and language and easily take them in new directions.  Grimm: The Chopping Black will read as very familiar to fans of the show, if it doesn’t put some of them off by stretching the bounds of what they have seen so far.

Grimm: The Chopping Block is available in bookstores everywhere, and here at

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