Title: Girls Made of Snow and Glass
Author: Melissa Bashardoust
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Expected Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Rating: 3.5 Stars
I received an ARC copy of Girls Made of Snow and Glass in exchange for an honest review. Thanks goes to NetGalley as well as Flatiron Books for this advanced copy which is expected to be released September 5 2017.
“The word that Lynet hated so much had sounded like a luxury to Mina. She had tried to think of a time when she had ever felt delicate, but she couldn’t for as long as she could remember, she had always felt herself covered in invisible fractures, a map of scars like the ones that ran up and down Felix’s arms. Perhaps she was so broken that she had become unbreakable.”
Dear fellow Babblers,
Girls Made of Snow and Glass is Melissa Bashardoust’s first novel and I am looking forward to what this body of brimming imagination can come up with next. This novel is an allegory in and of itself. Bashadoust brings to the young adult genre multiple mature subjects that stretch beyond the typical coming-of-age love story. A fantasy book that is driven my feminist motivations and an evocative tone that renders the reader grasping onto his or her chair in anticipation of the final resolution: Who will be queen?
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.
Girls Made of Snow and Glass is an intertextually dark retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs without the evil stepmother. It is the story of two women who share a magically surreal, yet menacing relationship: a life that is not a life, but a trapped illusory life which is controlled by the one who wishes to take this illusory life back. Confused yet? Keep reading and you’ll begin to notice the intrinsic nuances that merge these female protagonists together.
Mina has grown up without a mother and is raised by an old maid and her dangerously menacing magician father, Gregory. She grows up as a figure to fear in her Southern village and is fearful of her own father. She is beautiful and she knows it, causing those around her to view her as a narcissistic young girl who doesn’t know the first thing about love. One day, upon his return from a long trip in the northern kingdom, Whitespring Gregory changes Mina’s life forever… for the second time…He reveals to his daughter his plans to take them north to live at the kingdom. Defiant young Mina lashes back at her father her refusal to move to this unknown land that has been cursed in winter since the mysterious death of their Queen Sybil several years ago. It’s quite simple for Gregory to manipulate his daughter into coming with him when he reveals to her the source of her heart and the reason why, unlike himself and the rest of the world, thrives without a beat. When Mina was young and very ill, with glass and his very own blood, Gregory replaced Mina’s weak, yet still beating heart with a cold and severe heart of glass. Because of the lack of a beating source of life, Mina is made to believe she is incapable of loving and is therefore incapable of being loved – at least that is what Gregory tells her to believe. If Mina will be loved for anything, according to her father, it will be for her beauty. It is these same words that continue to be reiterated in Mina’s mind throughout her new life at Whitespring, and is what brings her and Whitespirng’s princess Lynet together.
Mina arrives to the kingdom, and with the ambition to find love and be loved in return, gets it into her head that the only way to do so is by becoming queen. And this is exactly what she does. Mina and her stepdaughter, Lynet form and instant liking to each other and this, dare we call it love, becomes the source of their power against Mina’s father. Mina strives to protect Lynet against Gregory who wants what he gave Lynet at the time of her creation, yes creation, back.
Lynet is the reflection of her late mother, beautiful and fair. However, she is wild and refuses to be tamed into the traits that her mother once had. She has a heart that beats and so is capable of loving and being loved but she is also, just like Mina, one of Gregory’s magical creations. She is made of his blood and snow. Gregory has lost his youth in creating her and with each passing moment, seems to grow weaker and hungrier for the life he gave to Lynet.
The novel traverses alternating timelines and perspectives between Mina and Lynet to illustrate the battles that each must confront alone, only to be drawn together later on. As the years go by Mina fears the day that Lynet will come of age and take Mina’s place as queen, thus pushing her to the side, and rendering her and unloved “creature” yet again. Lynet, however, has no such desire to grow up and take responsibility in becoming queen despite the expectations set up by her beloved father. Both women must fight against each other and for each other to reach a pivotal decision – Who will be queen…?
Mina and Lynet are heroes of their own misfortunes and, only together, are able to uncover the underlying powers that each of them control. There is no charming prince with iron cuffs on horseback to gallop in to save the women and restore peace to the kingdom. The king dies and Mina and Lynet must struggle against many obstacle which continue to weaken their bond, and by the end, form a new, everlasting bond whose strength exceeds magic. With romantic twists standalone descriptions that often had me putting the book down to think about the feminist subjects being alluded to Girls Made of Snow and Glass is all about character development. There is very little suspense and plot which often makes it feel as though the story is dragging on without going in very new directions. Despite the curiosity and excitement I felt at certain parts of the book, such as the romantic chemistry growing between Lynet and the obscure surgeon, Nadia, I found it hard to really get into it. As a reader, I would have appreciated the feminist themes that the author incessantly voices a lot more if there was less pauses in the conflict to explore the characters’ thoughts and perceptions, and more dialogue or description on what is exactly happening and why. There is too much reflection and not enough action rendering the novel charming, yet suffocating due to the slow pacing.
All in all Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a delightful dark fairytale retelling which has an abundance of conflict development, yet lacks conflict. This is a creative and heart-pounding novel all about characters and their psychological antics. It is slow yet fulfilling, and is therefore worth the read.
Again, many thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for this ARC. How do you guys feel about intertextuality, especially dark kinds? How could Girls Made of Snow and Glass been rated 5 stars instead of 3.5? Comments? Recommendations? Comment below to begin a babble!
(Book image credits go to Goodreads)