Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Snow in Summer by Jane Yolen

The lovely cover, with its hidden pictures and intertwined stories, perfectly captures the delicate beauty of this fairy tale retelling. Yolen eschews the modern fashion for fairy tale retellings that veer towards cheerful fantasy or contemporary humor and returns to the roots of the fairy tales, weaving signs and superstitions, religion and belief, and the growth and strength of a single character.

Snow in Summer is left almost an orphan when her mother dies. Only the loving care of her courtesy aunt, Nancy, protects her when her father retreats into his own grief-filled world. Until the day he comes home with a strange woman. Summer becomes Snow and Stepmama takes over her life until she forgets what warmth and love are like.

As Summer grows she begins to struggle against Stepmama's power and in a final desperate attempt to escape she makes a new life for herself. In the end, she has her happy-ever-after and frees her family from the evil spell of a dangerous witch.

There is a constant tension throughout the story as the reader waits for something climatically awful to happen to Summer, besides the slow destruction of her life and spirit. The language is simple but beautiful, pulling the reader through the tale to the slow blooming happiness of Summer's conclusion. This is aimed at the older end of middle grade, with much of the magic wound about Summer getting her period and some other more mature themes.

Verdict: Not for every fantasy fan, this is unlikely to appeal to either younger children who like fantasy/humor-themed retellings of fairy tales or older readers who expect a romantic tale. However, if you have children - and adults - who truly love fairy tales and the blending of legend and magic, they will enjoy this carefully crafted retelling.

ISBN: 978-0-399-25663-9; Published November 2011 by Philomel; ARC provided by publisher through Raab Associates


Charlotte said...

Well, I guess I fit the description of those who might like it! It's on my tbr list, at any event...

Jennifer said...

Oh yes, I definitely think it's for you (-:) I do have some young teens who like "real" fairy tales and they'll like this too I think.