Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa BashardoustPublished on September 5, 2017 by Flatiron Books
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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.
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This is a book that I thought I would love but it just wasn’t meant to be, and it’s not because the book was badly written, but I wasn’t a good match for it.
Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a beautiful re-telling of Snow White and the Evil Queen that breathed new life into the tale and gave it something extra I haven’t seen before. For the first half of the book, the story alternates between past and present, and the points of view of the princess Lynet and her stepmother Mina. These eventually merge in the timeline and continue alternating in present time. At first I actually didn’t care for this format but it proved not only helpful for the context of the rest of the story but all the little pieces of each of the characters’ histories came together and made this story rich and vibrant. Add to the fact that this book emphasizes the power of women, that the primary characters are women, made it all the better.
This is one of the most well executed Snow White re-tellings I’ve ever read.
Which probably makes zero sense if you remember I said that it wasn’t a great fit for me as a reader.
While the story itself was beautifully written and given the depth that I don’t see often enough in young adult fiction, I wasn’t hooked. My rating comes from an entirely entertainment perspective and I didn’t feel engaged in this book. Much like a fairy tale, I felt distanced from the characters and I found myself either skimming sections or putting the book down in favor of a different one.
But I don’t want to dwell on that too much because it’s such a individualized view of the book. Now I mentioned two characters and I’m sure you can guess from the synopsis which one represents their fairy tale counterpart. Oddly enough, I didn’t have a favorite between the two. Mina’s desire to be loved above all else drives her every decision even when it doesn’t seem to be at the forefront. I loved that Bashardoust showed this in a number of ways and used varying degrees of expression to really bring out the theme of love not only in Mina’s storyline but Lynet’s as well.
Lynet had all the confusion of a teenager and it was perfect. I think my fifteen-year-old self could have really related to her because she’s dealing with so much but you can see how her focus shifts around between who she is and what she wants in life. I liked that she didn’t know what she wanted because how many teenagers actually know? How many adults know? It’s great to have a protagonist who’s sure of themselves but it’s nice to see one that isn’t too. I also loved her relationship with the surgeon, Nadia. The inclusion of the F/F/ romance felt like a perfect fit, not forced for the sake of calling a book “diverse” (yes, I’ve read stories that seemed like that but this was definitely not).
In short, this is a wonderfully written book that just wasn’t as entertaining as I would hope, but I can’t fault it for anything else. I’d definitely recommend it if you enjoy fairy tale re-tellings and rich characters in a beautiful new imagining of a classic!