rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’d been carrying the book around for a few days before I noticed the two faces of the bear on the cover. It was also a few chapters in before I remembered that the story draws on Snow White and Rose Red, so of course I had to pull out my book of Grimm fairy tales – and while the tale obviously forms a skeleton for the book, the emotional complexity is – wow. It feels as though the book is the original, and the story got boiled down and down until it was only that short, odd fairy tale, with all of the important magic and questions and depth of character left out of it. The book breaks your heart and somehow manages to put it together again. And while it’s not a book for everyone, the brutishness and violence never feel overdone or out of place.
In some ways it feels very YA, but a lot of the characters are adult, and although it could be described as a fairy tale retelling, it’s not at all for the same maturity level as something like Beauty or Ella Enchanted – although teens and adults who love stories like those, and can handle a more intense story, will find this very satisfying. If you can get through the first fifty pages, it never gets quite that terrible again. And it’s really, really worth it. I’m looking forward to rereading this one.
Why, why isn’t this on the list for the Mock Printz I’m going to? I would love to have the chance to discuss it. It’s some of the best writing I’ve seen this year – in terms of character that are often painfully real, a wonderful use of multiple perspectives, and just plain old not wanting it to end. I have a snow day from work and I wish it weren’t over, so that I could be curled up under a blanket right now, reading it.