We all know the story of Snow White. An evil queen wants to kill her beautiful stepdaughter for being more beautiful than her. She escapes to a house with seven dwarfs and then the queen finds her and puts her into an eternal sleep. Later, the dwarfs kill the queen and a prince comes out of nowhere and kisses Snow White, breaking the curse, and then they all live happily ever after.
But I like those stories that use this story like an outline—a retelling—and then add their own twists and flourishes to it. And this book definitely did.
Snow White, Rose Red
In a tiny Welsh estate, a duke and a duchess lived happily, lacking only a child—or, more importantly, a son and heir to the estate. Childbirth ultimately proved fatal for the young duchess. After she died, the duke was dismayed to discover that he was not only a widower, but also a father to a tiny baby girl. He vowed to begin afresh with a new wife, abandoning his daughter in search of elusive contentment.
Independent—virtually ignored—and finding only little animals and a lonely servant as her companions, Jessica is pale, lonely, and headstrong...and quick to learn that she has an enemy in her stepmother. "Snow," as she comes to be known, flees the estate to London and finds herself embraced by a band of urban outcasts. But her stepmother isn't finished with her, and if Jessica doesn't take control of her destiny, the wicked witch will certainly harness her youth—and threaten her very life...
Age: 13 years and up
Review: 4 stars
I really liked this retelling of Snow White. You could see the similarities between this story and the original Snow White, but this one had a lot of originality that it kept me riveted.
Snow—or rather, Jessica—is a child raised by servants. Since the servants obviously do not know how a proper duchess is to be raised, Jessica mostly runs wild among the estate. That is, until her father remarries. Everyone, including Jessica, is fooled by Anne, the new duchess, except for Alan, the fiddler. He is Anne's servant, and has an enchanted chain around his neck that prevents him from being able to tell anyone what goes on in Anne's room. Alan is also Jessica's best friend, and when Anne reveals her plan to steal Jessica's heart, Alan rushes—and struggles—to try and save Jessica without revealing anything.
Then we meet the band of outcasts, Chauncey, Mouser, Sparrow, Cat, and Raven. They take Jessica in when they find her wandering on the streets of London, and quickly become her family.
But then Anne claims to have changed, and Jessica—now known as Snow—who yearns to have a mother, is willing to give her a second chance. Here is where I had a bit of qualms with Snow.
The duchess, Anne, tried to kill Snow. Yes, I understand that Snow wants parents who care for her more than anything, but Anne tried to kill her. I would not be willing to go back and say, "Oh, hi, I know you wanted my heart for yourself and all, but I'm just gonna go meet you and put it all behind us." What?
Though I know it was essential for the plot, I still wanted to smack some sense into Snow and scream at her that it was a trap.
The Lonely Ones (the band of outcasts that take Snow in) quickly captured my heart with their quirks and care. As they became Snow's adopted family, I came to care for them.
Another thing I really liked was the way the author wrote the book. It was in third person, which allowed us to see what was going on everywhere and be privy to what the duchess was going to do (and then yell at Snow for being so naïve.) Also, some chapters were things that weren't essential to the book but that allowed us to see what other character's were thinking, such as Alan's letter to his sister after accepting the position as a fiddler in the Welsh estate.
Though I knew (for the most part) how the story was going to end, it wasn't boring in the least and provided much entertainment that kept me wanting to know how the author planned to have things happen—and therefore kept me eagerly turning the page.
I recommend this book to people who love retelling of fairy tales, love, magic (or science), and a happily ever after that's not so expected.
*Note: Both the cover and the blurb are from my copy, now obsolete. By clicking the Amazon link on the title above the cover, you can look at the new cover as well as the new blurb.
Labels: fairy tales, fantasy, fiction, four stars, love, magic, reviews, teen