ARC Review - Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Title: Girls made of Snow and Glass
Author: Melissa Bashardoust
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Series: n/a
Published: September 5, 2017
Source: Sent for review
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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.

Overall?
I ENJOYED IT

The fact that the back of the ARC says announces that this book is "The Bloody Chamber meets Frozen", along with the fact that it's supposed to be a retelling of Snow White and is hailed as a "feminist fairy tale" made me excited to see what it had in store.  Now, full disclosure, I don't know what The Bloody Chamber is so I can't speak to any similarities between this story and that one, but as far as Frozen and Snow White go it's actually a pretty good mix of the two that come together to form something pretty original.  And as far as the "feminist fairy tale" part goes, it definitely hit that out of the park; not only was it a feminist story, the whole thing just oozed fairy tale in both vibe and prose.

I think the thing that stood out to me the most in this book was the writing.  There were sentences in here that I wanted to highlight the crap out of (I didn't though, cause I don't like to mark my books) because they just spoke to me.  I'm not sure how to describe it, but the way the whole book was written just felt like a fairy tale that you don't think you've heard before but is still familiar.  The other thing I really loved was how female-centric it was.  There were all of three male characters that were of any significance, and even then they weren't a huge part of the story.  It also passed the Bechdel test (which basically asks if two women talk to each other about something other than a man) with flying colors. And now that I think about it I'm not even sure two females talked about a man (at least in terms of romantic interest) at all in the story.

The other thing I really enjoyed was how the story was structured.  It was a dual POV between Mina (The "Evil" Queen/Stepmother) and Lynet ("Snow White"), but instead of just seeing Mina as she is when the story starts we get to see her grow, starting from when she's a teenager and progressing up to the present where her narrative meets up with Lynet's.  Being able to see into the "evil" queen/stepmother's head was something I feel like you don't get to do often in a fairy tale, and when you do it usually is just a backstory, ala Heartless or the like.  That was the Snow White element (I don't think there were any dwarves though), and the Frozen/Snow Queen element came from the magic both women could do.  Lynet was made from snow and thus could control it and Mina had a glass heart, allowing her to control glass, which I thought was a fun twist on the idea.  There was also the element of Lynet struggling with the responsibilities that have been pushed on her at a young age.

There wasn't anything wrong with this novel, just things that fall more into the realm of personal preference.  Despite being a fantasy novel it's VERY character driven.  Like, not much action happens for 150+ pages because at its heart the story is very much about the relationship between the two women.  That's the other thing that might drive some people away; as I said above there aren't many male characters and they don't do much, which might cause male readers to pass over it (not that they should, of course, but we all know it's not unusual for guys to skip books with female main characters).  I had a little trouble getting into the POV, I can't put my finger on what it was, but it slightly jarring to begin with, although I did get used to it so it wasn't a huge issue for long.

As a whole, I was pretty pleased with this book; it was beautifully written and had a refreshingly original plot due to the mash-up of inspiration.  It also had a fantastic message, making it something that girls/women of all ages should really read if only to show everyone that winning for one doesn't always mean losing for another.  There's also a wonderfully sweet same-sex romance going on, although it's more of a subplot as opposed to a main focus.  Fairy tale fans should definitely check this book out, and although it was nothing mind-blowing I'll be sure to check out Bashardoust's next novel, especially if it's another retelling/mashup because she's definitely someone to watch.

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