Snow and Poison by Melissa de la Cruz*
I read it as a(n): digital galley
Length: 288 pp
Her Grace’s rating: 2 out of 5 stars
De la Cruz’s lush retelling of Snow White is set in 17th century Bavaria. The central figure is Sophie, the Duke of Bavaria’s daughter, and her love interest is Phillip of Spain. They meet at her debut ball, which is also the marriage of her father to a woman called Claudia, who hails from a remote region of Bavaria. Events are set in motion that will test the strength of Sophie’s resilience as well as the bond between Sophie and everyone she loves.
There were many things to like about this book. In particular, the relationship between Sophie and Claudia was delightful; it’s always refreshing when an author makes a traditionally negative character into one worthy of love and respect as she did with Claudia. She turned the trope of the wicked stepmother on its head.
There were several drawbacks to the novel as well, though. The pacing was generally poor. The first three-quarters of the book were a straightforward historical story; one wondered when or if there would be any elements of the Snow White tale. I had actually wondered if this was perhaps the first part of a duology or trilogy. Then, in the last quarter of the book, the dwarves’ and the wicked witch’s characters were introduced and the whole rest of the fairy tale proceeded from there in a very rushed manner. Mostly because of the inconsistent pacing, the characters in general all lacked development, and a couple of them who had the potential to be honestly fascinating were more or less glossed over in favor of concluding the story. Many unanswered questions remained as a result of the pacing deficiencies.
The novel should appeal to younger teens or established fans of de la Cruz, but I think it would disappoint older teens or adult YA readers.
*This review was originally published with the Historical Novel Society