I received an eARC of the book from the publisher through NetGalley. It has not affected my opinions.
Genre: Fantasy (Retelling) Age Range: adult Star Rating: 4 stars Series: standalone
At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone has never beat at all, in fact, but shed always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the kings heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.
Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queens image, at her fathers order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do and who to be to win back the only mother shes ever known or else defeat her once and for all.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
This is a dark retelling of Snow White, focusing on the relationship between “Snow White” and the “Evil Queen” – and how it got to the point that they were enemies. I found their relationship and the unfolding tragedy of Mira’s life the most gripping part of this story. I really enjoyed reading this one gloomy afternoon (would have been silly to read it in the sun!)
It’s not a particularly obvious Snow White retelling. There are no dwarves (thank goodness) for “Snow White” to care for, and the magic is very different. In fact, it’s more like the backstory of how the Evil Queen became the Queen told alongside the build up to a very distorted version of Snow White.
I really like that, as it meant the story beats weren’t familiar. Unlike, say, A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY, where it follows Beauty and the Beast more closely, Snow White is more of an inspiration. It’s more like going “oh, that’s a reference to the Huntsman not killing Snow White”. The story felt more unique than merely a retelling.
The world, this cold, snowy castle trapped by a curse and inhabited by a King idolising his dead wife at the cost of his daughter and new wife, felt so unforgiving. It was slowly decaying, preserved only by the snow and everyone’s denial. It suited the story well, and played into the magic system of control over snow and ice. I loved how Mira’s powers twisted the “mirror, mirror one the wall” idea – and how that linked to the huntsman.
The NetGalley description very clearly says that this book is told over two timelines initially, and I’m glad it does as there wasn’t any marker in the copy I read that these two girls’ narration were more than a decade apart. You probably could have worked it out after a little bit of reading, but it’s such a simple thing to but a time stamp marker that it was a little irritating.
Read my reviews of other books by Melissa Barshadoust: