I’ve had Dust & Grim on my TBR for a little while, and when I was in the bookstore for one thing online said they had but they didn’t, I didn’t want to leave sans book, so I picked up this. Overall, it’s a decent spooky middle grade/YA tale about newly discovered siblings and the family business, a funeral home for the supernatural; don’t say “monster”, that’s offensive.
The only real problem was that I did not ever really take a liking to the main protagonist, Molly Grim. She’s supposedly 13, but sounds and acts more like she’s 8. Granted, teen girls can be a special kind of jerk, but Molly has a really off-putting sense of entitlement for a thinly explained “my dad didn’t really pay attention to me” childhood, and seems to have a hard time with boundaries. Even when she realizes that her newly discovered brother Dustin hasn’t had it super easy the way she seems to have thought, him having been raised by their mother and trained in the family mortuary business, she’s still really immature for her supposed age. It’s not even the cosplay attachment; it’s things like she knows the phrase “cultural touchstone” (aka Star Wars) but not “cut and dry” (she thinks ‘shut and dry’). And how does she think she’s going to specialized art school when she hasn’t done high school yet?
The other problem, though this is less noticeable, is the lack of information about how Dustin and Molly’s parents died, and when. The siblings need to be orphans for the premise of the story to work, but there’s virtually nothing about what happened to mom and dad, and especially since their parents’ history is part of figuring out the mystery of the family business (not so much the what, as it is the hidden cemetery side of things) and who is trying to cause trouble.
The fun part finally gets going once the focus shifts from Molly, who eventually causes a major problem by letting something she shouldn’t have in to the cemetery, to Dustin and a handful of supernatural individuals who might be able to help put things back to right. To some extent, there is touch of stereotype, like Florg the blob thing, and the sorcerer being more of a practicing “culinary wizard”, but everyone has enough personality (even Florg) that it’s an entertaining if mildly spooky adventure. Even though by this point, Molly wants to fix things and she knows it’s largely her fault that the cemetery and the mortuary business are in real danger of total destruction, she still never really changes, at least not enough for me to like her.