Elizabeth Rew has just been offered a dream job. Working as a page in the New-York Circulating Material Repository doesn’t just mean fetching Marie Antoinette’s wigs for various curators; it might also net her some friends, which have been in short supply since she started at her new school. The Repository has collections that inspired the work of H.G. Wells and William Gibson, among others, but its mysterious Grimm Collection has been the victim of theft, and it falls to Elizabeth and her fellow pages to solve the crime. It doesn’t help matters that the items are magic, or that one of her co-workers has been borrowing some of them without permission.
The magic in The Grimm Legacy is sometimes dazzling (flying carpets, a giant bird who might be the thief) and sometimes played for laughs (winged sandals that are harder to drive than a stick-shift, a magic mirror with sarcasm to spare); there’s a funny discussion among the kids about how outmoded some of the items are compared to modern technology. The Repository still uses a system of pneumatic tubes to shuttle messages around, an old-school technology that becomes new again when the tubes are used to transport shrunken people.