- Page Count: 400
- Release Date: September 5, 2017
- My Rating: 4 stars
Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale
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 she’d 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 king’s 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 queen’s image, at her father’s 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 she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.
Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.
The main idea here is such a creative and brilliantly feminist take on Snow White! It’s told through the alternating POVs of Mina (the stepmother/Queen) and Lynet (the Snow White character).
Mina’s story is about her controlling magician father who saved her life as a child by replacing her heart with one made of glass. He told her that she could never love or be loved, but that others would love her for her beauty. Through a string of events at court, Mina reaches the conclusion that a queen would have the power to make people love her. And so she eventually completes her mission to becomes the queen and grows close to her stepdaughter, Lynet. Mina has the power to control glass and mirrors because of her heart. (This is all like her backstory before her current story gets going).
I absolutely loved how this story didn’t pit the two women against each other because of their appearances (or for ANY reason). Neither of them had a lot of agency at the beginning, but then they worked to help each other instead of falling into the roles of “the bitter, aging queen and the sweet young princess poised to take everything from her.” I wanted to hug this book so many times.
I don’t want to spoil the plot or say how the retelling still works even with Mina and Lynet supporting each other… but I loved seeing how they each became strong in their own way. The themes were a bit cheesy at times, but it was just such a refreshing take on a familiar story that I didn’t mind at all. The story was happy and hopeful. (So if you’re looking for a gritty retelling with awesome villains and tough girls killing everyone, this might not be your scene).
Most of the plot points were pretty brief, though, because the story revolved around Mina & Lynet’s relationship so much. Like Mina’s connection with the South is important to the story, but it kind of felt like an unclear side comment. And the curse on the North was only briefly thrown in and then brought up again at the end. Lynet’s relationship with Nadia also took a back seat, but was still one of the best f/f romances I’ve seen in a YA fantasy book. There’s more to their relationship besides instant attraction, so that alone gets a star.
So there were parts of the plot that felt overly simplified alongside some really detailed, thoughtful character growth. I took a star off because most of the book ended up feeling like exposition to me. I thought this had to be the first part of a series from the way it kept setting up the story. There wasn’t really a true threat or sense of urgency or problem to solve for most of the book. The story kind of happened to the characters for so long that it was hard to get super into it… I wish the book could’ve had at least 100 more pages to actually settle into everything.
BUT the creative approach to the retelling was still really fun to see. I loved all of the subtle ties to Snow White, like Mina’s “rotten core” or Lynet being named after a bird. So if you like YA retellings or have been looking for a light feminist fantasy book, then this is worth checking out!
Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.