Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Girls Made of Snow & Glass ~ Melissa Bashardoust [@mothlissa @Flatironbooks]

Girls Made of Snow and Glass
Flatiron Books
September 05, 2017
384 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

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.
Of all of the books that I have read that claim to be feminist fairy tale reimaginings, Girls Made of Snow and Glass may very well be my favorite. This is not just a case of the girl not needing a prince to come and rescue her, she doesn't need a prince, period. (Or a princess for that matter.)

While absolutely recognizable as the Snow White tale, author Melissa Bashardoust turned a lot of things on their head - many more than I was expecting.

It is very enjoyable that we not only get Lynet's story but Mina's as well. It isn't as simple as the young princess and her wicked/evil/selfish/narcissistic/unkind/fill-in-the-blank stepmother. Their relationship has its secrets and is complicated, more so by what readers (but not most characters) know of Mina's past. She is not used only to play some role in Lynet's life, to be the archetypal villain (or archetypal anything) but is very much her own fully drawn character. Even as you don't like what she's doing, you can understand it. She is definitely a character that will cause conflicted feelings - and some heartache and anxiety, as well.

The twist on what makes Lynet's character, 'the fairest of them all,' was pretty fantastic both in the actual 'what' but also how it affected Lynet and the story. She did seem to be a simpler character (than Mina, at least0 at the start but as both she and readers discover some of what's been kept from her, there was a lot of character development and growth.

Even when these two characters seemed to be diametrically opposed, I loved both of them and wanted them both to have things work out. The book was that much more compelling because it seemed that could be possible, but often unlikely that it would be.

The world of Whitespring, why there's the endless winter, the division of the kingdom and how all of it led to Mina marrying the king and then to Lynet's possible future is great. I loved that we got this fantasy world, with its magic and court politics, but that it all played into the characters' pasts, their lives and what their roles could or would be.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a great blend of self discovery, family dynamics, relationships and heartache, magic, fantasy. I absolutely and completely want to read more from Melissa Bashardoust.

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

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