Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Yay, another retold fairy tale from one of my favorite authors! It was great to review Boots a few weeks ago, so I was looking forward to this one, and I have to say, I liked it even better. I hope Ms. Martinez writes more adapted fairy tales (please!)
This book is a retelling of the Grimm brother’s Snow White and Rose Red. Nothing like the Disney version of Snow White, thank goodness! This time I googled the original story before I read this version, and once again I really enjoyed how she was able to take the best elements of the original, twist them around and flesh them out, and place them into a contemporary setting. One of my favorite parts of this story was how she was able to place the forest – that place of magic and mystery so prevalent in Grimm’s fairy tales – in a place where it just fit. This time, in rural Minnesota in the dead of winter.
Rowan Hadley is the main protagonist of the story. He lives with his twin brother Snowden in their deceased parent’s house on an isolated island in a large lake. Rowan and Snowden are barely scraping by, after their parents died and their inheritance got tied up in probate and lawsuits. Both men are disabled in some way – Snowden has very limited speech but Rowan’s disability is not revealed until a good ways into the book – that makes them unable to pursue regular jobs, so they subsist on hunting, fishing, and working odd jobs during the summer. Winter for them is much like it must have been to the original Snow White and Rose Red – a time of dark, and cold, and danger, and privation. The brothers are very close, dependent upon each other, but they stick together out of love more than need.
When a bear appears on the island, the brothers are only mildly concerned, expecting it to wander away. Then Rowan runs right into the bear, and immediately notices that this is not an average bear, especially when it follows him home. Eventually the bear is in their house, and Rowan finds himself attached to him not just like human and pet, but in a way that feels different, but strangely right. When the bear does not show up as usual one night, Rowan goes out looking for him but instead finds a gorgeous bear of a man naked in the snow. And Rowan brings him home as well. And thus begins their journey – Rowan, Snowden, and the bear – to discover and break the curse and rescue not only this bear, but another man who got caught up in the curse (because after all, Snowden needs to have a man to fall in love with too!)
The way the author brought magic into our world was more subtle, and therefore easier to accept, than the way she did it in Boots. There was even a little bit of Beauty and the Beast here, with Cade being cursed into a bear due to his out of control temper, and although becoming a better man wasn’t the way to break the curse, he wouldn’t have been able to do so without earning and accepting the trust and assistance of Rowan and Snowden. Cade was the character than changed and grew, while Rowan and Snowden remained the staunchly good and decent human beings that inspire those around them to be better people. I was able to fall in love with all of them, and that’s what made me enjoy the book so much. There was just the right amount of danger and conflict to make it exciting, but I just wanted to jump in there hug all three of these men!
Now I just need to read more of these, and Ms. Martinez does them so well! I hope she has more in the works, and if so, I’ll be first in line to read them…
Cover art is by Posh Gosh, and once again is perfect for the story.
Published November 29th 2016 (first published November 18th 2012)