Beautiful Sophie with lips as red as blood, skin as pale as snow, and hair as dark as night, is about to come of age and inherit her father’s throne. But Sophie’s stepmother wants rid of her – beautiful she may be, but too weak and foolish to reign. And Sophie believes her, as she believes all the things that have been said about her – all the poisonous words people use to keep girls like her from becoming too powerful, too strong.
When the huntsman carries out his orders of killing Sophie, she finds a fire burning inside her that will not be exstinguished, and sets off to reclaim what was taken from her.
Jennifer Donnelly turns her feminist eye to this most delicious of fairy tales and shows Snow White as she’s never been seen before.
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Publication Date: 20th October 2020
Page Count: 432
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Fairy tale retelling, feminism and ferociously cute animals, if they’re what you’re looking for in your next read then look no further! I, for one, am a sucker for a good fairy tale retelling, I simply can not get enough of them. They’re always so imaginative in the ways they twist the stories and develop the characters and this book is no exception. Snow White is my least favourite princess, I find her very irritating and utterly insufferably, however, Sophie is strong in both mind and soul and I was constantly rooting for her throughout. She still has some traits of the original Snow White such as her tremendous good looks, caring nature and a need to always to the right things but she has so many more. Gone are the helpless princesses who wait around to be rescued and always lost in their own little world of animals and perfectness, instead we have resilience, sacrifice and a lot of mud.
An aspect I really enjoyed about this book was the deep-rooted feminism throughout. In any form of story, it is always the men who are in charge and the women who just to lay around looking pretty and being polite and no one ever addresses it, but this book does. A favourite line about this is: ‘
‘A prince poisons a mutinous noble. A bishop burns a man at the stake because his God speaks English instead of Latin. It is not murder, like the history books say, but execution. Done to preserve the peace. Distasteful yes, but necessary. […] There was one abomination no king, no prince or no pope could forgive. A woman who wears a crown’.
It recognises the things wrong with not just fairy tales but history itself and uses them to develop characters and story and it just gets me so pumped to see something refreshingly different and highly important. Because in reality, women are just as capable as men at doing everything, we’ve just been oppressed and put down for so long.
Of course there are plenty of male characters in this book and some of them are perfectly splendid, and although some of the usual tropes appear, such as Sophie waiting for a prince to come rescue her, but the books leads her to a point where the prince isn’t coming to save her, therefore she has to save herself. Because we don’t all have beautiful princes on stallions that save us from peril, the only person we can wholeheartedly rely on is ourselves, and that is what Sophie does!
An interesting aspect of this story is that you can’t quite pinpoint who the villain is. There are several characters that could qualify for the role, such as the Stepmother – who we all know is evil -, the man in the shadows, even the society in which they live in, that makes it impossible for a woman to hold any title or source of power without being seen as vain or cruel. Each element is added together to create a world in which Sophie has to be wary of everything – her surroundings, everyone she meets and every decision she has to make. It is a very suspenseful book with so many cogs of suspension turning.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed the book and everything it highlighted, I wouldn’t have necessarily say it blew me away which is why it isn’t a 5/5 stars, I’m just very stingy with my 5/5 star ratings, I’m sorry! However, if you’d like a read that inspires you to do whatever you want to do or simply love a retelling like I do, I would wholly recommend this book.
I hope to see you all again soon,
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50271319-poisoned
Amazon link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50271319-poisoned