After reading “The Stepsister” by Jennifer Donnelly, I was keen to start “Poisoned” and read Snow White’s reteiling, but I wasn’t impressed.
Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen’s huntsman. Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman pulled out his knife… and took Sophie’s heart.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Sophie had heard the rumors, the whispers. They said she was too kind and foolish to rule – a waste of a princess. A disaster of a future queen. And Sophie believed them. She believed everything she’d heard about herself, the poisonous words people use to keep girls like Sophie from becoming too powerful, too strong…
With the help of seven mysterious strangers, Sophie manages to survive. But when she realizes that the jealous queen might not be to blame, Sophie must find the courage to face an even more terrifying enemy, proving that even the darkest magic can’t extinguish the fire burning inside every girl, and that kindness is the ultimate form of strength.
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling, Romance, Young Adult
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Format I read it in: Paperback
Sophie, the main character, has a heart of gold that we instantly see. Then, the huntsman actually stabs her and takes her heart, leaving her dying in the forest. The lovely seven men in the house in the woods help her stay alive by building her a clockwork heart. This is probably the only things different compared to the Snow White story, aside for the King of Crows part.
For me, it felt like reading the original story again and that wasn’t why I picked this book up.
In “The Stepsister” , although it’s the Cinderella retelling, it was all about the stepsister and the author had the freedom to create her own story. However, here, Sophie just followed the trope of the original Snow White tale. I liked the metaphor of the heart – people losing their will, and their faith in the kingdom ruled by a ruthless queen. The metaphor of their freedom being taken away when ruling by fear is implemented.
I enjoyed Snow White losing her heart and then going on the adventure to find it. Although, I have to admit, I didn’t enjoy the part about the King of Crows and his connection to the queen. In the end, it felt like everything the queen had done was because she was forced to do it. This ended up making her not the true villain and having no responsibility nor accountability. What about all those people in the kingdom that suffered from her ruthless hands?
That being said, I liked the revelation of how the people in the kingdom lived. The promise of a better tomorrow with a queen that actually cares about her people. I also enjoyed the romance that wasn’t actually the main point in the story or a crucial element in the book plot. It was one of those cute side plots that kept me interested.
In the end, a bad taste in my mouth still stays with me after reading the book. There wasn’t a lot of originality and after I finished it, it felt like I finished Snow White, not a retelling.
About The Author:
Jennifer Donnelly is an American writer of young adult fiction best known for the historical novel A Northern Light. A Northern Light was published as A Gathering Light in the U.K. There, it won the 2003 Carnegie Medal, recognizing the year’s outstanding children’s book.
She lives in London and her debut novel, No Life for a Lady, will be published in Spring 2023.