Series: The Grimm Cases, Books 1-3
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Reverse Harem, (Light) Horror
Publication date: August 15th, 2019
The story follows Bianca Brosnan as she discovers that the house she’s watching for her professor is haunted and decides to do something about it. Especially when the haunting turns dangerous and Bianca starts getting hurt. When going to her best friend doesn’t work, she reaches out the the only person she think might actually believe her – even if she’s never met him before in her life. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?
“Once upon a time, a handsome young man was waiting for his perpetually late friend. It was the icing on top of a very bad day in a string of bad days. The young man had been bored with his life for a long time. He was full of ideas, but he lacked initiative and had no desire to do anything with them.” Damen’s eyes sparkled playfully.
I fought the urge to hide my face, as I started to realize where this story was leading. Miles, on the other hand, didn’t resist. He groaned and covered his eyes.Origins, Ch. 9
This collection includes the first 3 books in the series – Origins, Ghost, and Blood – as well as bonus chapters and the companion short Home. Which was just perfect for me as it took me a while to get into the story in Origins. Thankfully, as soon as the story pulled me in it had me in its thrall. As well, luckily for me I had the first 3 books to fly through at once. It certainly helped me jump through the story without needing to come up for air. (Something I certainly didn’t want to do!)
Bianca is a unique character to be in the head of. She thinks in a way that almost confuses me even though as the reader I’m able to follow her train of thought. She comes to some of the most insane conclusions that I’ve ever read. She takes people and their words at face value… most of the time. The rest of the time she over analyzes what they’ve said until their words take on a whole new meaning. And it’s fantastic.
makes for one hell of a ride, that’s for sure.
But of course, the paranormal world around her more than makes up for the second hand embarrassment you might get. I always love seeing how different authors create their world and characters and Oweds does not disappoint. While there are some basic similarities that many paranormal stories have – like ghosts and poltergeists – this is a fantastic new (to me) take on what the paranormal world can look like. I enjoyed every little bit of information that I was able to soak up about the world and its inhabitants.
If you’re looking for a straight up ghost hunting story, then this isn’t the story you’re looking for. However. This story focuses on a group of friends and their abilities in a truly interesting way. It showcases how they help strengthen each other both emotionally and through their powers. This group of friends truly is the center point and highlight of this story.
I recommend this read for someone who’s interested in a good time, filled with paranormal mystery and intrigue. Bianca and her friends have a lot to overcome – whether you’re looking at Bianca’s haunting or the paranormal world as a whole. It’s fascinating to watch this story unfold.
Basically the second that I finished this collection I picked up the next book in the series and dove straight back into this world. Because my goodness does this story take the reader on a ride. (I told you I didn’t want to come up for air!)
In general, I tend to write my reviews covering all of the topics in a book in this section. My thoughts are often thrown all over the place and though I do try to have somewhat of a flow to them, I’ll admit it can be confusing at times. Because this is a collection of stories, I’ve decided to break down my spoiler-y thoughts a little differently this time. So, here are my thoughts on each of the books within this collection:
Series: Book 1
Publication date: October 10th, 2018
This story follows along Bianca Brosnan as she discovers that the house she’s watching for her professor is haunted and decides to do something about it. Especially when the haunting turns dangerous and Bianca starts getting hurt. When going to her best friend doesn’t work, she reaches out the the only person she think might actually believe her – even if she’s never met him before in her life. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?
“The place I’m house sitting is haunted.”
My statement was brave – considering – and I hoped I’d spoken loud enough to be heard by the intended recipient. I didn’t want to repeat myself. It had taken a lot of courage – or foolhardiness – to say it the first time.Ch. 1, Bianca
While just a small part of Bianca’s personality, I really like the fact that she’s such a stickler for semantics. For example, she calls Damen out for missing parent categories with his explanation of how ghosts/spirits are formed. He generalizes the categories he’s creating and Bianca is not here for it. She makes sure he knows that his categorization is incomplete. It’s such a small thing in the grand scheme of the books, but it’s that kind of attention to detail that I’m always drawn to.
Speaking of the men in Bianca’s life, let’s talk about the possessive asshole that she called her best friend for years: Finn. Everything I say here is with the knowledge that he gets slightly better as the series progresses and he just has issues with emotions and his temper. But still. Possessive asshole.
I understand wanting to keep Bianca safe from a world she doesn’t understand. I understand that it wasn’t his decision to keep the truth from her. But he could have tried to be a little more open with her. To actively be scared of angering your best friend proves that he’s not a good friend. You shouldn’t be scared to make your friend – or anyone – show emotions for fear of being attacked. It’s true that it’s all Bianca had known up to that point, but I’m so glad that she finally has people in her life that are there for her. They’re going to protect her when she needs it and she doesn’t need to worry about them getting mad and taking it out on her.
The least he could have done is listen to her when she talked about her haunting. He didn’t need to tell her that the supernatural world is read in order to listen to her. That’s what being a good friend means. A good friend is not someone who tracks your messages and phone calls with others, someone who monitors and restricts your internet searches. It’s not someone who controls your life and your access to the outside world. Someone who tells your parents your deepest secret and has you diagnosed with schizophrenia instead of telling you the truth about yourself.
I’m thrilled that Bianca went behind Finn’s back to talk to his brother Damen about her issues. Not only do we get a wicked scene where Bianca overcomes her fears and maces Titus (truly one of the best scenes I’ve read in a long time), but Bianca gets to meet people who actually listen to her and care about what she has to say.
Getting to meet Damen, Miles, Titus, and Julian was the best thing that could have happened to Bianca. Of course there’s the pull that they feel for each other, but it’s more than that. Bianca finally has people in her life that understand her, people she can talk to about the things going on in her life.
It’s the small things, too. Like Titus picking out a phone with cute things on it because he thought that Bianca might like it. And she did. Miles always makes sure to cook delicious meals for Bianca because he noticed that she loves food. Damen is there to flirt and protect her. Julian is always there giving her the support she needs even when she doesn’t realize that she needs it. That is what being a good friend is about.
Of course, there are parts to the story other than the relationships that I absolutely adored. The supernatural aspects of this story are extremely fascinating. Learning about Bianca’s powers – her accidental blinking, her ability to see and touch spirits, etc. – was beautifully written. Since she’d gone her whole life pretending not to see spirits, we get to figure out Bianca’s powers at the same time as her.
While this is a trope that happens a lot in stories – the hero/ine coming into their powers throughout the book and discovering them with the reader – I adore the way that Oweds dealt with this topic. Since she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and everyone around her was pretending that the supernatural world wasn’t real, Bianca is truly starting from scratch when it comes to learning things. This makes it so that the history and magic system of the world gets told to the reading in a very organic way. It never feels like the author is throwing information at the reader or forcing it into the story. Instead, the supernatural aspects of this world come out naturally when it fits into the story. Bianca doesn’t suddenly learn everything there is to know about the magic in the world, she only learns what’s pertinent to the story at that given moment. And I’m here for it.
The supernatural side of this world is extremely well thought out and explored. While I could sit here and gush about all the different ways I love about it – such as the shikigami and their connection to their humans – I’m just going to leave my thoughts on this book here. It’d be best if you got to experience everything for yourself by reading this tale. If you haven’t yet, I seriously hope you pick this series up.
Bonus Chapter: Titus
This is an adorable chapter that shows Titus and Bianca’s first meeting – pepper spray and sacking in all its glory – from Titus’ perspective. It’s cute and quirky – like the rest of the series – but in a very humble and down to earth way. Titus is oblivious to the world, and it’s clear from the beginning. He’s drawn to Bianca but doesn’t understand why.
Bonus Chapter: Julian
This chapter covers the moment when Finn shows up at Bianca’s professor’s house and loses control on her, ending with a “curse” to her aura. Of course, it’s from Julian’s perspective. It shows just how far he’s willing to go to protect the people that he cares about – Bianca quickly becoming one of these people.
Series: Book 2
Publication date: January 24th, 2019
Bianca’s powers are steadily growing, and thanks to her new friends she knows she’s not insane. But with her growing powers is a growing darkness inside of her. Thankfully, the boys help her feel not afraid for the first time in her life, like she might just be able to face the world, to believe in herself.
With only days left to solve the haunting at her professor’s house, Bianca needs to figure out how to balance her personal issues with her ghostly issues. And time is running out.
If a professor wanted to punish a student for being bad, what would he do? Will he use a ruler on me? I don’t want to be spanked. I thought that corporal punishment was illegal. Do they whip people these days? It’s kind of scary and I’m alone.Ch. 1, Bianca
First things first, I absolutely appreciate the fact that this book contains more than just Bianca’s perspective on things. While I’m glad that the first story was purely Bianca’s mind we got to visit, as it made the story flow smoothly, this story has quickly become more than just Bianca’s to tell. Getting to read about how the guys are handling things as well helps the world grow and expand in a natural way. Plus I really enjoy getting to see the different ways these boys think about things.
This book also does a great job at introducing the other characters in Bianca’s life. While the first book was mostly about Bianca being introduced into the supernatural and finding a place she belongs, this story widens that up to touch on the way that Bianca interacts with the world as a whole.
Take, for example, Bryce Dubois, her biology TA and arch nemesis. Not everything in Bianca’s life is positive – including the deadly haunting, of course. We all know that’s not a positive in her life. But to see the physical world also having a tole on her makes Bianca feel more human. No one is going to like everyone in their life, so it’s refreshing to see Bianca take an intense dislike for someone she has to interact with on a regular basis. It’s also cool to see that Damen also hates the man.
Bianca’s life further expands when she starts being more comfortable in her own skin. When Damen takes her to a crime scene, she willingly walks off on her own knowing that she’s safe with him. It’s here that she meets Caleb Weaver, Dr. Stephens’ half brother and the new ghost she’s going to have to contend with. He might not be the friendliest being that Bianca’s ever met, but he helps her out more than he had to.
Putting aside the fact that he got killed because he was looking into the mysteries of Aine Hamway’s house in order to help the crew, he helped Bianca learn more about her powers and the way that she can/should interact with spirits. While he wasn’t able to dig up all of the dirt on Aine’s house, he was able to lead Bianca and the crew onto the correct path of questioning. Without him it would have taken them much longer to discover that the Cole family used to own Aine’s house and that no one had been able to purchase the land before her. Sounds suspicious, alright.
Caleb’s death also helped uncover the subplot of policemen being grandfathered into the force instead of having to go through the academy like they were supposed to. The hyena pack on the case didn’t know or follow any of the guidelines that the academy would have instilled in them in order to keep their identities as shifters a secret.
Though, this negligence on their part allowed me to confirm my suspicions that Titus is a dragon. And it allowed Maria into the scenes – badass female that I’m sure will be a fantastic friend for Bianca. She needs more strong female influences in her life.
This book also shares with the reader the fact that Julian’s mother is the doctor that’s been putting Bianca on her medication. Knowing what he knows, Julian is rightfully furious with his mother for helping to perpetuate the fabrication of Bianca being schizophrenic instead of a powerful Medium/Empath. I can’t imagine knowing your mother is at least partially to blame for someone you care about thinking that they’re crazy… when you know very well that the supernatural world actually exists. That had to be a tough pill for Julian to swallow. I can’t blame him for being furious with his mother.
The last thing I want to talk about in regards to this book is the fact that Bianca agreed to be… something… with the guys. She’s agreed to the cuddling and hugs, the casual touching and flirting. But nothing intensely physical. This is the first hint that Bianca thinks she’s broken not only mentally and emotionally (which she makes clear from the beginning), but also physically. She even goes as far as telling Damen that she’s okay with him – and the other guys – fulfilling their physical needs (aka having sex) elsewhere so long as she doesn’t have to hear about it. This alone shows how much Bianca has truly begun to care for – and about – the guys.
Bonus Chapter: Miles
This cute scene is about Miles cooking for Bianca, trying to show her that he appreciates her and wants to care for her the way he knows best. Of course, it goes from cute to hilarious when Bianca tells Miles that they’re all monks and she’ll respect their vow. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one shocked by the conclusions that Bianca’s able to jump to…
Bonus Chapter: Damen
In this chapter, Damen and Miles talk to each other about how Bianca is clearly the Wood Xing on their way to discussing Bianca’s training with Bryce and Brayden Dubois. It’s clear that Bianca means a lot to them if Damen is willing to put aside his intense hated for Bryce in order to get Bianca the help she needs in regards to her training.
Series: Book 3
Publication date: July 18th, 2019
Bianca is starting to feel like everything she’s ever known has been a lie. Everyone in her life has been keeping secrets from her. Yet things in her life and finally starting to make sense. No matter what anyone else says to her, she’s found a place with Damen, Miles, Titus, and Julian. Finn might hate the development, but he lost his best friend privilege to care.
But none of that will matter if Bianca and the boys aren’t able to finish the case. Will she be able to make the tough choice between justice or compassion?
Why was he looking at me? I’d deliberately sat at the other end of the room. I was as far away from the offensive man as humanly possible.
But still, the way his gaze held mine – it was as if we were only feet apart.
I couldn’t tear my eyes from his, even though I longed to do so. The first two weeks of the semester, it’d been so easy to ignore him, to avoid his gaze. But now… something in me rebelled at the idea, even though I felt physically ill only looking at him.
I couldn’t lose.Ch. 3, Bianca
Right away, this book helps further explain the magic system of this world. It breaks down who each Xing is and the role that they have in their quintet. Being the archetypes for their perspective magical groups, and explaining exactly what this entails, truly helped me place the information that’d already been thrown my way. I was finally able to better understand how the characters fit inside the archetype, as well as their own personalities and their previous lives.
Damen is the reincarnation of Huo, the fire Xing, and the archetype of the onmyoji. He’s got a shikigami, or demon, that helps him rule over the underworld and keep the spirits in line. Bianca is Mu, the Wood Xing, and the archetype of the mediums and empaths. She’s able to interact with the different kinds of spirits and control them, all while being able to feel the emotions of the people and spirits around her. Miles is Tu, the earth Xing, and the archetype of the witches. He’s a jokester but sensitive, powerful but subtle. He gains his magical abilities through the earth and influences things and others in the subtlety of the earth. Titus is Jin, the Metal Xing, and the archetype for the shapeshifters. Not only is he the only dragon to exist, he’s a powerful badass that leads – according to Bianca, at least – the supernatural equivalent of the mafia. And, finally but certainly not least, we have Julian as Shui, the water Xing, and the archetype for the necromancers. While at this point there’s no definitive answer to the role that Julian plays in the supernatural world, it’s clear that his powers have a dark side to them that he is not proud of. Julian does what he needs to in order to protect those he cares about.
This story also helps understand the officers that help support the Xing in their respective classes. Each Xing has an Er Bashou (or second), a Jiangjun (third), and a Tongjun (fourth). These roles are assigned based on the power of the individual, each having their own strengths and specific ways in which they support their Xing.
With such a handy explanation clear in the story, it made it a million times easier to place the characters’ relationships with each other and their roles in the world. It also explains why the boys went to the specific people they did in order to get help on the haunting at Aine’s house. Damen might hate Bryce, but he is Bianca’s second and therefore her strongest officer/ally. He’s just going to have to get used to reporting to his “arch nemesis”.
As the haunting comes to a close, it’s crazy what Bianca was willing to go through in order to protect the innocent. Lily might have been killed years ago, but she was still willing to risk her existence in order to protect Bianca from James. James might have been confused into thinking he was protecting Lily and not torturing her, but Bianca knew that she had to help Lily out however she could. If that meant fighting against Rosanne and James Coles in order to send Lily on to her afterlife.
If only the complications of the haunting ended when Bianca and the boys released Lily and Rosanne’s spirits – unfortunately, James was too far gone and Kasai had to take care of him themself. But things would be too easy if everything ended with the ending of the haunting.
No, instead Bianca ended up being kidnapped by the Coles as they attempted to sacrifice her in the same ritual that Lily was killed for. Sure the kidnapping allowed Bianca to tap into Mu for the first time, but at the risk of her almost dying. And the cost of her killing 3 (granted, very evil) people and thinking that she herself was evil for being able to do it so easily. Plus the hair pin that Titus gifted her. Of course the hair pin is more important than her actual life…
I’m thankful that the guys were willing to do everything in their power in order to get Bianca back. Damen was willing to kill someone in order to get the information about where she’d been taken and Titus actually did kill people to protect her. And mutilate the bodies of the people she’d already killed so that she couldn’t be blamed for their deaths.
The worst part of this story is that Bianca’s deepest fears comes true – her parents show up and force her back into the mental hospital “for her own good”. Bullshit. They basically signed Bianca’s death warrant by forcing her back into that hellhole.
Series: Prequel Short
Publication date: March 14th, 2019
Her whole life, Bianca has seen spirits. But ignoring them has worked for her so far. Pretending to be normal has worked well enough that Bianca’s able to find a home with parents and a new life. No one needs to learn her secrets.
But then she meets Finn, her first ever friend. He’s in her class and is slowly being killed by a demon. No one else seems to notice. As much as she yearns to be normal, there’s no way that Bianca can just sit by and watch her best friend die in front of her eyes…
Questions – things I never would have been brave enough to ask earlier – rushed from me. “C-c-can I take y-y-your last name?”
My new mother, who had been tucking a strand of hair behind her hair, paused. Her eyes shot to mine, and the look in them caused my joy to dissipate.
“No.” Her voice was firm. “No, you may not. And do not suggest such a things again.”Ch. 1, Bianca and Abigail
Parents are supposed to be caring, right? Not standoffish and make you self-conscious about yourself? Or make you think that they hate you and resent having you in their lives? I thought so. Abigail Geier is an asshole for making Bianca continue to feel like she’ll never be good enough even after they adopted her. She might not be good with kids, even after having her own, but that doesn’t excuse the crass and hurtful way she talks to Bianca – like calling annoying and stating she doesn’t like her voice. Or even just telling Bianca that it’s her job to be “normal”.
While I’m glad that Bianca was able to find her first friend ever in Finn, it’s a bitter sweet moment knowing what kind of an asshole he is when they reach post secondary school. Of course, this story takes place before Bianca does something she shouldn’t in order to save Finn’s life. It shows his innocent side, before he was forced to keep secrets from his best friend and basically control her life in order to make sure she remained stable.
Even at eight Bianca had an extremely strong moral compass. She knew that the demon following Finn was going to kill him. Since he was her friend – her first and very best friend at that – there was no way she was going to sit around and watch the demon take his life. So she did the only thing she could in order to protect Finn’s life. She made a deal with the devil.
It’s clear in this story that Abigail is the one that decided to hide the truth from Bianca. While I’m glad that the others in her life didn’t want to keep it a secret from her – heck, her own doctor warned Abigail against the secrecy and lies – I’m not happy that no one fought for Bianca’s rights. No one fought to make sure that Bianca was safe and cared for – both physically and mentally. At least that part of the stories has a happy ending. Not in this tale, but years in the future when Bianca meets the men in her life that are willing to risk everything to make sure that she’s okay.