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Literature / Grimm Tales

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"So if you're ever in trouble, if monsters loom or magic runs wild, give us a call. My name is Zane Grimm. I'm a Crystal City Mage. And helping people is what we do."
Zane Grimm

Grimm Tales is a young adult Urban Fantasy series by Daniel Freeman, the first book of which, Rise of the Yokai, was published in 2018.

The story follows Zane Grimm, as he begins his career with the local mage’s guild. You’d think having magic powers would make life easier, but that’s where you’d be wrong. And when a goddess shows up to give Zane his first assignment (stopping the return of another goddess bent on spreading death and destruction), that’s when things really get complicated.

Grimm Tales contains examples of:

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  • Action Girl: When you work for a mage's guild, this is practically a requirement

  • Action Pet: Dante. He's very large, VERY resistant to damage, and can teleport himself and others that are nearby.

  • All Myths Are True: At the beginning of Rise of the Yokai, Zane says this outright.

  • Archer Archetype: Tobias' skill with a bow is truly impressive. In combat, he seems to use his bow more than his magic. When he needs to, he can even combine the two.

  • Artifact of Doom: The Vault is full of these.
    • For example, Lizzie Borden's axe, which causes anyone who picks it up to have an uncontrollable urge to murder their parents.
  • Asian Fox Spirit: Tobias

  • Badass Boast:
    • When his opponent tells Zane to make sure he can last at least five minutes, Zane tells him he'll beat him in five moves. He does it in four.
    • Rin delivers one to Kora after cancelling out her fire attacks.
      "Your flames are naught before my winter."
    • Kora, right before unleashing literal Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs on one of the Oni.
      Kora: I'm an Amazon, big man. You're out of your weight class.

  • Badass Bookworm:
    • Sarah certainly qualifies. For the fifth grade talent show, she recited Hamlet from memory, and considers A Brief History of Time light reading. This is the same girl who rammed an Oni through a building with a truck.

  • Battle Aura:
    • Berserker Soul gives Jason one of these, along with a major power boost.
    • Zane gains one as well after gaining access to Susanoo's power.

  • Beast Man: Based on comments from Zane, demihumans like these are a common sight in Crystal City.

  • Birthday Beginning: The story begins on Zane's birthday.

  • Berserk Button:
    • Threatening or insulting Jason is a really good way to piss Zane off. Zane always gives it his all to protect his friends, but when Jason is injured and nearly killed, he can become downright vicious.
      • Jason reacts the same way to any threats made against Zane.
    • Persephone is the goddess of springtime, not flowers. It's generally a bad idea to let Sarah hear you make this mistake.

  • Big Bad: The girl in black that leads the break-in at the Vault. Later revealed to be Izanami, the goddess of death.

  • Bigger on the Inside:
    • Both the Library and the Vault are far bigger on the inside than they have any right to be.
    • The guild hall. Good lord, the guild hall.
    • Zane's house is able to make additional rooms as needed. He even compares it to living in the the TARDIS.

  • Blow You Away:
    • Zane and David are both able to create and control wind.
    • Orochi has this power as well.

  • Body Snatcher: Izanami does this to various host bodies, jumping into a new one when the first wears out. And being a goddess of death, the new body doesn't need to be alive for this to work.

  • Calling Your Attacks: Used with some spells, but not with others, so it's probably optional.

  • Cast from Stamina: Magic works this way. Using too much magic at once leaves a mage physically exhausted to the point of blacking out.

  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Zane has a habit of doing this. Especially during his fight with David, where he uses it as a way to distract his opponent

  • Childhood Friends: Zane and Jason met when they were little kids, and have been inseparable ever since.

  • Collector of the Strange: Zane looks after the Vault, and is responsible for everything inside.
    • Sarah, too, after she starts working in the Vault.

  • Cool Gate: The warp gates the mages use to travel around the world.

  • Cool Sword: Zane's and Susanoo's weapon, the Totsuka sword.

  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Once Zane awakens his God Soul powers he delivers a brutal one against Orochi
    • Made even better when you realize that up until that point, it was all Team Grimm could do to stay alive. After his powers awaken, Zane not only wins, but overwhelms his opponent to the point that he isn't hit once.

  • Cursed with Awesome: The spell that binds Zane to the Vault also protects him from all of the powerful (and often dangerous) objects inside. And while it is certainly helpful, it came at a high price, and lead to many problems, including setting off the plot in Rise of the Yokai.

  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Berserker Soul can make you insanely powerful, but when it runs out, you'll be in no condition to keep fighting. Assuming you can even stay conscious.

  • Dangerous 16th Birthday: Narrowly avoided when the plot kicks off the day after Zane turns 16.

  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: At the end of Rise of the Yokai, Zane manages to defeat an Izanami-possessed Orochi.

  • The Dragon: The yuki-onna Rin acts as one for Izanami

  • Dream Intro: Begins with one of Zane's recurring nightmares.

  • Elemental Powers: Mages can use magic based around these. Several characters seem to have these as their main type of magic.

  • Emotional Powers: Emotions can be a powerful fuel source for magic, but can also lead to Power Incontinence. Anger can make magic stronger but extremely difficult to control, while depression can make magic so weak you won't be able to use it at all.

  • Everyone Can See It:
    • Jason's crush on Zane. At least, everyone can except for Zane.
      • After Zane wakes up in the hospital following killing Orochi, Sarah tells him that Jason is alive and well, knowing that was the first thing he'd want to know.

  • Game Face: When the Jorogumo reveals her true form. It's bad enough Zane struggles not to vomit when he sees it.
  • Glamour:
    • Jason and Tobias are able to use a glamour in order to look human.
    • Yokai seem to be able to do this as well.

  • Glamour Failure: The Jorogumo suffers one just before she tries to attack Zane.

  • Good Is Not Soft:
    • Sarah is described as a kind and caring person. You do not want to fight her.
    • Zane himself. Push him too far, and you will regret it. But not for very long.

  • Green Thumb: Sarah's magic allows her to conjure and control plants.

  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Inverted with Kora and Tobias. Kora uses her Amazon strength and fire magic for melee combat, while Tobias prefers to use his bow and arrows to fight at a distance.

  • Half-Human Hybrid: Jason. His father is a werewolf, but his mother is human.
  • Healing Hands: An important skill for mages to learn.
    • Sarah is noted to be a skilled healer.
    • Sarah's brother Leo also qualifies thanks to his job in the guild infirmary.

  • The Hedge of Thorns: After the doors to the Vault are broken, Sarah blocks the entrance by filling it with rose bushes.

  • Heroic Sacrifice: While trying to protect Zane from Orochi, Jason's magic is completely drained, leaving him defenseless against what comes next.
    • Subverted when Sarah is able to revive him.

  • Hidden in Plain Sight: After sealing all the items in the Vault inside a book, Zane decides to hide it somewhere in the Library. After all, what better place is there to hide a book?

  • An Ice Person:
    • In combat, Jason primarily uses Ice Magic.
    • Rin. As a yuki-onna, this is also literal.

  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: One of the Oni, courtesy of Rin.

  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Lampshaded by Zane during his fight with David, after the latter can't seem to land a single hit.
    Zane: Maybe you should go find a Stormtrooper and ask them for some tips.

  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Tobias can make incredible shots using his bow. He even pulls off a shot worthy of Robin Hood.

  • Improbable Infant Survival:
    • Subverted with both Eric and Morgan's son, and their human godson's child.
      • Double subverted when, through the clever use of some very powerful magic, the children are merged into one being and survive.

  • Incompatible Orientation: Zane would have been happy to ask Diego out, but Diego is only interested in girls.

  • Interspecies Romance: A common enough sight in Crystal City that nobody gives it much thought. Jason's parents are such a couple.

  • It's Personal with the Dragon: At least, for Miroku it is. As if Rin killing the mage he was guarding, and Izanami possessing her body wasn't bad enough, he was then stuck in his human form and lost most of his magic until she could be defeated.

  • Japanese Mythology: Numerous creatures and characters appear throughout the story.

  • Jerkass: David is this in spades. It causes him to push Zane's Berserk Button, and after that things go downhill fast.

  • Kill It with Ice: Rin is a firm believer in this.

  • Kill It with Water: Zane has a few moves based around this. The results can get ... messy.

  • Light 'em Up: As goddess of the Sun, Amaterasu likely has this power.

  • Logical Weakness: Jason attempts to make use of this during the battle against Orochi. He figures that, being a giant reptile, hitting it with Ice Magic and dropping its body temperature should at least slow it down.

  • Loophole Abuse: How Zane stays out of trouble even after his sparring match. While he may have beaten his opponent senseless, he technically didn't violate any of the rules for the fight.
    • Based on Nick's response, it looks like this might be something he learned from his parents.

  • Magic Compass: Miroku creates one using a feather.

  • Magic Map: Used to try to track down Izanami.

  • Magic Mirror:
    • A large, ornate mirror is housed in the Vault, and once belonged to Lewis Carroll.
      • Zane's reflection in the mirror seems to be sentient. It even tries to warn him that something is off about the girl he just brought into the Vault.
      • By the end of the story, it has been moved out of the Vault and into Zane's bedroom.

  • Making a Splash: Zane uses this power to devastating effect.

  • Martial Arts Staff: Miroku fights using a Khakkhara, a staff carried by Buddhist monks.

  • Mirror Self: Several of the characters are forced to fight duplicates of themselves thanks to one of Rin's spells.

  • Monumental Battle: The fight against Orochi at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

  • Mood Whiplash: A friendly dinner turns dark quick when Zane tells the story of his Dark and Troubled Past.

  • Mr. Fanservice:
    • Jason's human glamour is noted to be quite attractive.
    • Diego. Full stop.

  • Noodle Incident: We don't get much in the way of details, but a few are brought up.
    • It seems Zane caused quite a few problems while trying to learn Lightning Magic. The power grid really should have been better insulated.
    • Kora apparently went a bit overboard during one of her sparring sessions.
      Kora: I put those fires out.
    • Sarah once walked in on Zane and Jason in the Vault while they were trying to get a cornucopia to work, and accidentally conjured two hundred pineapples.
      Zane: That aisle still smells like Hawaii.

  • Oblivious to Love: Seriously, Zane, how clueless can one guy be?

  • Offing the Offspring: Zane is nearly a victim of this. The goal wasn't to kill him, but the fact that the magic they used on him could likely prove fatal didn't stop them from doing it anyway.

  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Zane has this reaction when he realizes that the girl he just left in the Vault isn't a member of the mage's guild, and knows things she couldn't possibly know.
    • Again when Zane spots the Jorogumo's Red Right Hand.

  • Older Than They Look:
    • Nick and Penny look like they're in their thirties. They're not.
    • Amaterasu, Susanoo, and Izanami have been around for centuries, but appear to be in their physical prime.

  • One-Hit Kill: At full power, Zane's water boxing attack can do this.

  • Oni: Team Grimm has to fight Oni several times throughout the story.

  • Our Mages Are Different

  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Jason. Werewolves in this setting are a distinct species, and while he naturally looks this way, he can use his magic to appear human when he chooses.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Morgan and Eric watching their newborn son dying, and being powerless to stop it, even with magic.


  • Who You Gonna Call?: Mage's guilds function this way. When magic or monsters cause trouble, they'll be there to help put things right.

  • Wizard Duel: Sparring matches between mages is a good way to train.

  • Yokai: Zane encounters several different types of yokai during his mission.

  • You Have Failed Me: After he is defeated, Izanami doesn't hesitate to have one of her Oni killed.