By: Danielle Paige
Published by: Bloomsbury
Publication date: September 20th/October 6th 2016
Page count: 384 pages
Source: Review copy courtesy of Bloomsbury Australia
We meet 17 year old Snow in a mental institution, where she was placed as a child after an event which injured her and her best friend. She is kept medicated, referring to her pills as the Seven Dwarves, based on their effects - Sleepy, Dopey, etc. Her best friend, Bale, also a resident of the institution, has been kept from her for some time since Snow kissed him, he broke her arm, and has been catatonic ever since.
When Bale disappears, seemingly taken through a mirror, Snow is told of a way to follow and rescue him. Jumping at the chance, she finds herself in another world, ruled by an evil King and featuring witches, ice monsters, robber gangs and cute boys that Snow can't resist. There is a prophecy that the King can be brought down, and Snow might just be the one to do it.
My overwhelming impression of this book was that it didn't know what it wanted to be. Not so much a fairy tale retelling as a hodge podge of references, many elements are familiar, but they are not cohesive.
I was confused by Algid, the land Snow finds herself in. It isn't clear whether the occupants are human or fae or something else. Is it a parallel universe? It's never really explained.
Snow is obsessed with finding Bale and rescuing him, unless a good looking boy crosses her path. She has not one love interest, but three. At first she struggles to access and control her powers, but a few days later she has mastered them and is fighting in a major battle. In the institution her only knowledge of the real world is the television shows her nurse watched, but suddenly she adapts not only to being outside the institution, but to being in a whole other world.
Getting through this book was really a struggle for me. There wasn't enough world building, the story seemed to jump about and didn't flow well, and in all, it didn't really make sense. There are more issues, but I don't want to spoil things for those who choose to read it.
Some readers have really enjoyed it, so it is possible that I'm just missing something, but this wasn't for me.
First kisses sometimes wake slumbering princesses, undo spells, and spark happily ever afters.
Mine broke Bale.
Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent her life locked in Whittaker Psychiatric—but she isn’t crazy. And that’s not the worst of it. Her very first kiss proves anything but innocent…when Bale, her only love, turns violent.
Despite Snow knowing that Bale would never truly hurt her, he is taken away—dashing her last hope for any sort of future in the mental ward she calls home. With nowhere else to turn, Snow finds herself drawn to a strange new orderly who whispers secrets in the night about a mysterious past and a kingdom that’s hers for the taking—if only she can find her way past the iron gates to the Tree that has been haunting her dreams.
Beyond the Tree lies Algid, a land far away from the real world, frozen by a ruthless king. And there too await the River Witch, a village boy named Kai, the charming thief Jagger, and a prophecy that Snow will save them all.