by Jennifer Donnelly
Spoiler- Free Synopsis:
From Jennifer Donnelly, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Stepsister, comes a fairytale retelling that'll forever change the way you think about strength, power, and the real meaning of "happily ever after."
Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen's huntsman. Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman pulled out his knife . . . and took Sophie's heart.
It shouldn't have come as a surprise. Sophie had heard the rumors, the whispers. They said she was too kind and foolish to rule -- a waste of a princess. A disaster of a future queen. And Sophie believed them. She believed everything she'd heard about herself, the poisonous words people use to keep girls like Sophie from becoming too powerful, too strong . . .
With the help of seven mysterious strangers, Sophie manages to survive. But when she realizes that the jealous queen might not be to blame, Sophie must find the courage to face an even more terrifying enemy, proving that even the darkest magic can't extinguish the fire burning inside every girl, and that kindness is the ultimate form of strength.
Okay. I liked this. I liked it a lot. Was it as good as Stepsister? As far as my memory(which is NOT that good to start with) goes, no. It is not as good as the first book, but they seldom are. Also, OH MY GOODNESS THIS AUTHOR'S MIND IS GOLD. Like, I do not understand how someone has such a great gift, even when the story shifts to middle grade in the last half. No hate on my part though just rants, as usual, *snort*.
RATING: 🌟🌟🌟🌟⭐ 4.0
WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! ABORT IF YOU HAVEN'T READ IT YET!
This book gave me CHILLS. It made me feel so many things! From sadness to hope and from anger to desperation. It was so good! And then they introduced Sophie. Um, okay. I enjoy quite a LOT fairy tale retellings. When done well? They are absolute masterpieces. But then things like this happen, they are so intent on changing the main character (mostly female, because they're mostly useless in the originals) to be stronger, they just don't reach that goal. I mean how dumb and stupid Sophie was. Throughout it all. The character development was nice, not going to lie, but there was just something missing. A little something called 'not being a doormat' and that's one of the reasons why I was so intrigued to read this because detest Snow White and her story *belch*. But because she was such a simplistic, overly kind, extremely naive, idiotic moron in the ORIGINAL, I hoped for SO much to happen in this retelling. Most of the time, I confused her from a 17-year-old to a kid that was 9 years old (which was her original age in the Grimm version). Oh! Another thing that I would've LOVED to see more, the goriness, the blood and I don't say that because I'm particularly into the dark side of things but that's what the original story presented throughout the whole short story. The only scene that really depicted the whole Grimm aesthetic was when her heart was being cut out. That's it. And when Tom got whipped, without forgetting the man that had gotten a mark cut into his skin for trying to protect someone else. Again, Sophie had to intrude because that's what ANYONE would do (at least I would like to think) but come on, she had the royal insignia ring thing out in the open. And then when she was paying the family's fee, so they could stay in their houses she gave ALL her money (it was actually taken, but she should've been like: This is all I've got while showing at least 4 pieces of jewelry. Instead of being like, will this be enough? Whilst holding ONE piece of jewelry) Okay, moving on because I don't think I'm doing the rating I gave to this book justice *snort*. On to the things that I think saved this whole story. Firstly: The writing was majestic, it was magnificent, it was beautiful, it was so pungent and amazing. The way the author described certain things brought it to life, so much so that when Sophie's heart was being cut out or when Pain was tearing clumps of her hair or teeth, I felt queasy and disgusted. Which is a feat in and of itself. Second of all: The fantasy aspect of it was great, the creatures were terrifying and realistic in their goriness. And speaking of creatures I would've ADORED for them to be more present, I wanted backstory, wanted their history (but hey, the author needs more ideas for the next installment). Third of all: Weber. He was adorable, I needed more convos with him, I needed more of his utterly peaceful compassion. Ahem, Sophie, compassion, and kindness does not mean being stupid. Lastly: The King of Crows. I REALLY needed more of him, I wanted to investigate and nitpick his character more AKA Fear. Since everyone defines it differently and oh, I cannot forget about Pain, she was SUCH a necessary aspect of the story, with her obvious discomfort or subtle agreement with certain things *sigh* Amaziiiiinnnnnggggg *add opera voice if you will*. Now, let's dive into the depths of my rantiness and all the juicy bits I liked or absolutely hated (apart from Sophie that is) of this book. The romance, I could've done without (I feel like I'm always saying this but COME ON, let them slowwwlyyy walk towards friendship and get together at the end), the seven dwarfs needed more screen time, PEOPLE! They are so fundamental--scratch that-- they are the base of this fairy tale. Their kindness driven by the need to save a little girl was awe-inspiring on so many levels! I believe the first half of the book was WAY better than the second half of it. One hundred percent think so. It was all good and well up to the point Sophie left to search for Lord Pimplebuttocks, I mean, the male Rapunzel with a penchant of idioticness. And do not even get me started on how incapable was Sophie at defending herself (I see this ALWAYS, the girl is attacked 545 times, and she decides to learn how to fight...with a needle). Dude, you got blindsided and almost killed 3 TIMES, don't you think it's time you learn martial arts and don't faint every episode whilst saying I think my stepmother was right, I am weak? *FRUSTRATED SCREECHING* Do something about it then! Okay, um, next thing on the list...I've been hating on Sophie all this time but one good thing she did was giving her people hope.Yeah, that's it. What am I forgetting, what am I forgetting... Oh! Adelaide and Will *smacks forehead* How could I forget about them? Adelaide deserved a bit more in the backstory department, I like the antagonist in books to have a story, have a valid reason and I guess she kind of did? It just wasn't as good as it could've been. Regardless of that, I really enjoyed her character. Will, dear Will, the hunter that made me swoon sometimes. Wow, what can I say about him...he was very strong, quite smart, not stupid which was great and he was a very good side companion. And his family was crucial, definitely crucial. One of the only moments I felt connected with Sophie on a fangirl level was when she was watching him cook (SWOON), there I thought, there it is. The speck of a teenager and not an ignoramus. And last on my list but definitely not least, Death and Arno. Death was SUCH a good surprise. In the story, I very much appreciate my life and living said life. Breathing, chasing idiots with pitchforks, smelling roses, and yada yada. He was a very good character (vaguely mentioned as he was) and when he inclined his head toward Sophie?!? My heart went BOOM!! I was like: Ohmdweiudhwekjnshfccswsew, this is so GOOD! Alright, Arno, he was the sarcastic soul I NEEDED in this story, he even said and I quote: Stop being stupid. To Sophie. I fell hard for that sentence. Never have I been so attracted to a sentence in my whole life. He was such a nice person, *gasp* I just realized, he was like Robin Hood! He stole and gave his riches to the poor, Oh Lord author, was this meant to be a conspiracy theory. Eeeeeeeeekkkkk. Again, after the first half, it became a middle-grade story, which isn't BAD but it wasn't as deliciously appealing as the first half. The happy ending? Yeah, no thank youuuuuu.
Sophie almost dying. 3 times. So beautiful.
Arno saying the TRUTH.
Will looking good in an apron.
The Mirror and the fact that maybe there wasn't anything at all in it.
The whole squad: Fear, Pestilence, Death, Pain, War, etc.
The fact that I read this in two days. And it was 2 am when I finished it. My brain cells haven't regenerated yet.
P.S: I really enjoyed reading this book and I sincerely apologize if it doesn't look like it. The best books with me get the worst burns, love them but I feel the need to search for any and every weakness in its construction. Ugh.