Wednesday, 14 December 2016

White as Snow


Book Title: White as Snow
Author: Tanith Lee
Date Started: November 26th 2016
Date Completed: December 12th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Historical
Quality Rating: Three Stars
Enjoyment Rating: Three Star
Final Rating: Three stars

Hearing that White as Snow was inspired by a blend of fairytale and Greek mythology was enough for me to pick it up and these elements were definitely the highlights for me, but unfortunately the rest didn’t hold up. I don’t want to say the book doesn’t have other merits - it definitely does - but things were so slow it was hard to keep my enthusiasm up.

Finally, I have found a retelling of a fairytale that actually keeps the magic of the original. I have nothing against modern or other unexpected twists in retellings, but reading stories I’m very passionate about get ruined because the writer doesn’t understand the atmosphere and point of fairytales is not something I particularly enjoy. You can tell that Lee understands fairytales, and definitely favours the darker originals in her work. I’ve been looking for something exactly like this for a very long time, it’s just such a shame the pacing wasn’t up to scratch to keep me involved; from the writing-side of it, I loved it. But I couldn’t keep myself engaged with the story and characters.
Likewise, extensive world building is something I really respect and value, especially when it’s elaborating and developing a pre-existing idea, but White as Snow gets very slow very quickly. The main storyline doesn’t even start until halfway through the book because there’s so much time given to setting up characters. Some of this works, the rest is just unnecessary and frankly boring.

If you ever needed a book detailing the cruelty to women in medieval times then this is more than enough. While I’m glad it included some things, at times it was quite sickening to actually read. It’s important that we show sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse etc, but I struggled to keep coming back to the book when I knew there was going to be more and not a lot of redemption in response.
For arguably such a small novel, there are an awful lot of elements and little storylines introduced throughout that are then left behind not long after. The story spans such a huge time period that it’s understandable that elements are no longer relevant to the characters, but for a reader it became harder to latch onto a story that left behind stories you wanted to explore and placed them with new and unfamiliar ones. I personally really liked the wood folk, for example, and would’ve liked to see them carried on for a little longer, but they fade out at the halfway point and are never really mentioned again. A lot of the reason I found it hard to enjoy this book was due to the almost disjointed nature of the plot line.

With all good retellings, White as Snow has a twist on the original; we don’t only follow Coira (‘snow white’), but also her mother Arpazia (or the ‘wicked queen’). Needless to say, Arpazia has more than enough exposition to explain her well-known evilness and I honestly enjoyed her story more than Coira’s. But - and there’s a big but - sharing the protagonist space between both Arpazia and Coira made it very hard for me to find a place to read from: I feel like we were jumping between the women but not really exploring either of them that well. Pacing got complicated later in the book when both their stories were going on and felt like it dragged even more as a consequence. Additionally, both Arpazia and Coira are distant, detached characters - understandably - but it makes it hard to latch onto their narratives when it doesn’t feel like they’re really in them either.

I loved the sound of White as Snow, and I did like what I read but every time I put it down I found it hard to think of reasons to pick it back up. The story, while vivid and mystical, was slow the point of dragging, and the characters so far removed due to their circumstances that they were hard to engage with. The more I read, the lower the rating went in my head and while I loved this book to begin with, sadly it wasn’t the most enjoyable thing for the all 300 pages.

Image Source -

No comments:

Post a Comment