I loved, loved, LOVED this book.
Fairytale Re-telling ✔
Badass women ✔
Complex relationships ✔
Queer romance ✔
Creepy magical heart surgery ✔
Melissa Bashardoust’s novel is a beautiful, feminist twist on the Snow White fairytales, focusing on the relationship between Lynet and her stepmother, Mina, through entwining narratives of past and present.
Mina’s cruel, widowed magician father has told her all her life that she will never be able to love, or be loved. The reason; he replaced her dying heart with one of glass. She has only her beauty, and with it she may be able to marry the king, and gain a kingdom’s love as Queen.
Her stepdaughter, Lynet, grows up under the shadow of her late mother, pressured to follow in her footsteps and be just like her, and treated like a fragile doll. To her father’s dismay, she would rather climb trees and walls, and be like the mother she knows and loves; Mina. She struggles to find her own identity, knowing how much she looks like her mother, and how much her father wants her to become the woman she never knew. This made all the worse when she finds out that Mina’s father created her out of snow in her mother’s image.
Unlike the original tales, Mina and Lynet have a positive relationship from the very beginning, strained only by Lynet’s over protective father and the politics of the kingdom. Both girls suffer at the hands of the men who seek to manipulate and control them, finding strength and support with each other, even when it begins to seem that they are destined to be rivals.
Mina and Lynet are incredibly strong, fascinating heroines all by themselves, but the depth of their mother-daughter relationship is so beautiful and compelling.
I think there could have been a little more in terms of world-building, especially since the writing is so lovely and vivid, and I’ve seen a few other reviews that complain about the novel’s pacing, but I didn’t really find that myself. It is definitely more character-driven than it is plot-driven, but I really liked that.
On the surface, this is just another fairytale re-telling, but the story is really about family, identity, autonomy and women supporting women. The fantastical elements are also so wonderful and unique.
Overall, this is a beautiful, magical read.