Monica!'s Reviews > Snow in Summer

Snow in Summer by Jane Yolen
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No one is ever going to fight me on the fact that Jane Yolen is just a really, really solid writer. I don’t need to debate this with you. So when I give this kind of a mediocre type of review, you will understand that it’s not the writing, it’s just that I’m nit-picky and couldn’t quite wrap my brain around this fairy-tale retelling.

Initially I was all “Hot damn! Snow White retold in Depression-era Appalachia, where she wears her own caul in a bag around her neck for protection, and where the wicked stepmother consorts with snake-handling religious sects? Sign me up!!”

(Side note—having seen a caul before… guys, gross. You do not want to be wearing it, even for protection purposes.)

(Side side note—it was in a museum. The caul of Karl XII, King of Sweden. Let’s discuss how if you are famous and/or historical, NOTHING IS PERSONAL.)

Anyway! Went into this book all pumped up. Gradually lost enthusiasm. It was just… slow. Really super slow. And then, for a book that seemed to be locked into a plodding, dreamy, barely-plot-driven pace, an absolute shit-ton of stuff happens in the last forty pages or so. And it made my brain hurt.

But more importantly, I wasn’t sure of the logistics of having a fairy-tale retelling where the protagonist knew the original fairy tale.

Here we have Snow in Summer, who is pretty much totally unfazed by the presence of a magic mirror in her evil stepmother’s bedroom, because the evil stepmother in “Snow White” had one, so why shouldn’t there be another? It makes sense, right? And she knows she gets three wishes, just like one does in fairy tales.

But this knowledge doesn’t crop up later.

I mean, she’s racing through the forest after mommy dearest sends a Hunter to kill her dead, and she manages to fall in with SEVEN DWARVES, all of whom are MINERS from GERMANY, and wouldn’t you think this might cause “Snow White” thoughts too?

Or when a super-elderly woman comes to the door of the thatched-roof, bear-guarded, dwarf-filled cottage? Surely someone well versed in fairy tales—in the fairly tale that her life is mirroring—would know better than to effing LET THE OLD HAG INTO THE HOUSE and subsequently GET HERSELF POISONED, right?!

But apparently not.

And that, friends, was my real stumbling-block to the book. I could get over the pacing, but a heroine who knows the story she’s a part of but doesn’t pay enough attention to see how the plot of that story is playing out in her own life… that just bugged the hell out of me.
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Megan (new)

Megan Baxter Wait, Snow White gets three wishes in the original? Did I miss something?


message 2: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Peto I read Yolen's Nocturne and couldn't believe it was written by the same person who wrote Owl Moon. They have their hits and misses, I guess. Who knows why?


Monica! @ Megan -- I think that was more in a Basic Fairy Tale Rule sort of way, much like you're supposed to free trapped foxes when you're walking through the woods, and you're not supposed to eat anything if you get trapped in the Underworld. Etc.

@ Jonathan -- I guess if you wrote 300 books and every single one of them was amazing and perfect and indescribably readable, the rest of your author community would have to rise up and murder you in self defense. She's probably very carefully planting duds in there for safety's sake.


message 4: by Miriam (new)

Miriam That is good thinking, Monica!


Monica! I am *always* coming to brilliant conclusions, let me tell you!


message 6: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Peto Maybe someone is writing under her name and she's not sure how to handle it.


message 7: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Maybe it was written by one of her many grandchildren and she didn't have the heart to crush them.


Monica! Or it was a contractually obligated novel and her soul wasn't in it!


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