Title: Girls Made of Snow and Glass
Author: Melissa Bashardoust
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
Anyone who reads my reviews knows that I am a complete junkie for fairy tales and the retellings that they lead to. They were one of my first sources of literary inspiration, from the scrubbed squeaky-clean Disney movies to the stories that inspired them, the dark, bloody tales of The Brothers Grimm. So when I heard that there was a feminist retelling of one of the first fairy tales I ever came across, Snow White, coming out in September, I knew I had to order it from my local library. It also didn't hurt that it was partially inspired by Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber. Feminist fairy tale retellings for the win, guys!
Girls Made of Snow and Glass opens in a land cursed to eternal winter, with two young women at opposite sides of the country of Whitespring. Mina hails from the South, a girl whose heart is made of glass, and whose only desire is to be loved. With her sights set on the king of this cold kingdom, she is determined to get what she wants at any cost. Lynet, the king's daughter and the heir of Whitespring, longs to be seen as more than her mother's doppelganger, as the princess forced to inherit a kingdom she does not want; the weight of the crown too heavy for her young head. The women's paths collide when Mina weds Lynet's father, and thus begins a war for power in a world that doesn't want them to succeed. That battle will force both women to decide what they are willing to sacrifice to be their true selves, even if it means not winning the battle whole.
I really, really enjoyed this book! Snow White is one of my least favorite fairy tales, probably because the evil stepmother scared the crap out of me when she turned into an old lady. But I loved the way that Bashardoust took what was familiar and skewed it so that it stayed true to the bare bones of it. But with complex, strong female characters who weren't afraid to go for what they wanted, even if it meant hurting someone in the process! It was really enjoyable. The writing was gorgeous, and despite myself, I found myself sympathizing with both Mina and Lynet, one with the longing to be loved for herself and not just her beauty and position, and the other for an independent life, free of her royal obligations. I liked the way the story went back and forth between the women, giving a full perspective on their motives. I also really enjoyed the political intrigue throughout the novel, one of the biggest things that kept it going. And Lynet and Nadia! Oh my gosh, it was so sweet and wonderful. All of the romantic and sexual tension! The pacing was breakneck, and even when I wasn't reading the book, I was thinking about it, my mind consumed with it. And the ending! I was biting my nails throughout, hoping and praying that it would end happily. It was so satisfying! Unfortunately, I only gave this book four stars because first of all, it felt like every sentence was laced with references to ice, snow, and glass, and the world-building was kind of confusing, despite the helpful map at the beginning of the book. The bottom line: A beautifully written, feminist retelling of the classic Snow White tale, Girls Made of Snow and Glass was a wonderful spin on a story I thought I knew, inside and out! Next on deck: All We Have Left by Wendy Mills!