There are no spoilers in this review.
A spotlight shined on Girls Made of Snow and Glass last year, as the book was released and tons of book bloggers were talking about this debut positively, marketed as a retelling of Snow White, on their own blogs and social media. It’s not (only) because of these rumors that I wanted to add the books to my TBR, but it’s also because I have been getting into retellings more and more and that book’s premise sounded fascinating. I was not disappointed.
A great focus on characters.
“There are worse things in the world to be than delicate. If you’re delicate, it means no one has tried to break you.”
Told from two different point of views, we are following Lynet, the king’s daughter, and Mina, the king’s wife, as they trace their own path in Whitespring, the Northern Kingdom forever covered in snow and ice. For a book that’s marketed as fantasy, the character lover in me appreciated a whole lot how vivid, developed and three-dimensional these characters felt, as much as in a contemporary which solely focuses on its characters. That’s one thing here, actually: Girls Made of Snow and Glass found myself very surprised by this focus, instead of developing the world, it shone a light on its complex characters.
Both Lynet and Mina were amazing main characters to follow and root for, right from the beginning, because they are both far from being perfect. They make questionable decisions, they are flawed, they act on impulse, they have their own twisted motives and I absolutely loved following their course and their struggles through the pages as they slowly had to get against each other.
And an emphasis on family relationships.
“The truth still hung like a vicious blade between them. Only one of them could be queen. Only one of them could win.”
Before anything else, Girls Made of Snow and Glass was a story about its characters and the characters’ bonds to each other. I loved how it tackled and emphasized, for the whole story, the deep bond between step-mother and daughter, between Mina and Lynet, how close they grew in the past and how conflicted they were about having to go against each other in the present. That’s what I call family bonds and I LOVE IT. I also loved seeing a glimpse of the conflicted relationship between Mina and her own father. Family, definitely, was at the heart of Girls Made of Snow and Glass and for that, I say, YES.
This book was also heavily marketed as an f/f romance and, on that aspect, I have to admit that I found myself a little disappointed… but not so much. The romance between Lynet and Nadia started slowly, complicated by the events of the story as it went on. From strangers, they became friends, then slowly feelings grew and grew and YES for that slow-building, slow-burning romance. I found that the romance was not too present in the story, it was there, but not the heart of the story.
Less world-building, but still very fascinating.
“Weak or strong – she didn’t know what they meant anymore. Maybe they didn’t mean the same thing for everyone.”
Girls Made of Snow and Glass was, despite its heavy emphasis on the characters and their family relationships, a retelling and had a particular atmosphere, hints of fantasy and magic that were quite fascinating, even if the story did not rely on it too much. The idea of girls, literally, made of snow and glass (LOVE the reference to the title), was quite amazing and the discovery of the characters’ own magic was amazing just as well. I think the book could have used a little more world-building, but I didn’t mind too much, really, because…
I was so engrossed into the story, right from the first page. Melissa Bashardoust dragged me into her story with her words, managed to make the characters come alive on the page and I loved it all the more for that.
Girls Made of Snow and Glass was a very character-driven book, giving life to complex characters and intriguing magic. I would definitely recommend it to everyone loving a good fairytale retelling. Even if the world-building lacked a little bit, the focus on characters, family relationship and women taking over the narrative made this story fantastic.
Final rating: 4 drops!
Trigger warnings: Parental abuse–mostly verbal/emotional abuse and some physical intimidation, but including instances of physical abuse. Mentions of suicide, suicidal ideation, and self-harm. Violence/assault (but no sexual violence/assault). Death and grief *
Melissa Bashardoust, Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Published by Flatiron Books, September 5th, 2017.
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.
Did you read Girls Made of Snow and Glass? Do you want to?
Do you have any recommendation of great retellings? Or great fantasies with amazing character-focus? Let me know in comments!
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