Hey, my pagelings!
I’m SO excited today to be taking part in the blog tour for the Seven Magic Mirrors co-release of seven Snow White novellas by six different authors, all releasing this week!
Specifically, I’m reviewing Blood in the Snow by Sarah Pennington, and guys, I’m just SO SO EXCITED. I’ve known Sarah for years and she’s a delightful friend, blogger, and — now I know for absolute sure — a stupendous author! I’ve been waiting for her to have a book out for me to read and review and (hopefully) fangirl over for years and IT IS THIS DAY. I’m absurdly pleased about this. 😀
Also, make sure you drop by here to see all the stops on the blog tour and to enter a fantabulous giveaway for five paperbacks from this collection!
Now, my review . . .
Title: Blood in the Snow
Author: Sarah Pennington
- Date read: October 24, 2018
- Rating: 5 stars
- Genre: Fantasy / Retelling / Snow White / The Goose Girl / Novella / Asian-Inspired Fantasy
- Age: YA/any
- Year pub: 2018
- Pages: 137 (ebook)
- Fave character: Gan! But also Nianzu, Xiang, Baili, and Chouko.
- Source: The author
- Notes: I received a free e-ARC of this book as part of the blog tour. All opinions are my own.
BLOOD IN THE SNOW is a stunning debut from Sarah Pennington, an author I’ve long been watching. I was so excited to read it, and I’m absurdly pleased with the result. This first novella from her did not disappoint! The writing is lyrical yet unobtrusive, pulling one entirely into the story. Every facet of this tale is skillfully crafted together—the writing, the intricate plot, the characters, the themes, and the vibrant setting.
I loved this utterly enchanting retelling of Snow White and The Goose Girl! I never would have thought of the two fairytales together, but they work so incredibly well with each other in this book, I almost feel like this must be their natural state. I don’t want to share spoilers, but all the plot points were spot-on and yet felt organic and original, and a few of them surprising. The many complex threads were woven seamlessly together. Fairytale retellings are my favorite and this one was so well done, which made this reader very happy! ^_^
As much as I loved the retelling part, even the best retelling can fall flat if the characters don’t take off—but these absolutely came to life, and brought the story to life with them!
Baili was a good heroine and I enjoyed seeing her grow through the story and find herself. ^_^ I also really liked the prince character, Xiang! He was great, especially his willingness to help people. 🙂 I absolutely loved the scenes where they interacted. Other favorites were definitely two or three of the “seven dwarves” characters—who were not dwarves at all in this, but animal keepers. I loved meeting them and hearing about their different peoples and backgrounds, and the banter and dialog was so much fun. 😀
Gan was probably my absolute favorite character in the book! He was fantastic, and I also loved his exchanges with fiery goose girl Chouko, another of the seven. Their dynamic was the best. 😀 I wasn’t sure if I’d like Chouko at first, but I really grew to, which surprised me and was awesome! And the quieter, mysterious Nianzu. I’d almost love to read a whole other book about him and Gan and maybe Chouko—they’re that cool. 🙂 The characters were an absolute hit with me!
The worldbuilding was incredible—I could hardly believe so much was packed into this little novella! A whole broad-reaching world of many peoples, cultures, histories, and some surprising deeper themes. The magical bits were interesting too, with the bloodgift element and the Dragonglass, and I particularly loved the use of air and water; now THAT was neat. 🙂 But you’ll have to read it to see what I mean. 😉
I feel like this is a good moment for me to mention that I was reminded of Lloyd Alexander, one of my top three favorite authors, so that’s… well… that’s high praise. This tale just felt GOOD and made me feel at home and I want to hug it. ^_^
Sometimes it was a little difficult for me to keep track of the names (my own fault, I’m sure), and as with most novellas, I wished that it could have been longer (because I want MORE!), yet it made remarkable use of the space there was, so that it didn’t seem rushed, but felt like a complete story. And I always have a hard time reading Goose Girl retellings because ugh, people are so mean to the heroine! It makes me mad (at said characters… which is probably the correct feeling for the reader anyway. :P). But those are small personal things and as close to issues with the story as I can get—it was really fantastic and I loved it!
This novella was a Special Unicorn honorable mention in the final Rooglewood Press fairytale retelling contest, receiving a perfect score, and now that I’ve read it, I can see that there was absolutely a reason for that!
It left me spellbound and with a happy smile as I finished. The story is every bit as gorgeous inside as the breathtaking cover on the outside. I will eagerly await more tales from this author’s pen, and I highly recommend checking this one out!
About Blood in the Snow
Her destiny is decided — but betrayal breaks even the best-laid plans.
Baili, the princess of the Kingdom of Seven Rivers, has always known what her future holds. Declared the fairest of all by the fabled Dragonglass, she is destined to fulfill an ancient prophecy and unite her homeland with its long-time enemy, the Kingdom of Three Peaks. And in doing so, she may save her country from death and ruin.
In order to fulfill her destiny, Baili must travel to the Kingdom of Three Peaks and marry its prince, Liu Xiang. But all Baili’s plans and expectations are turned upside-down when her servants and soldiers, acting on her stepmother’s orders, turn against her on the road. Baili narrowly escapes with her life, but she’s left alone and adrift among strangers.
Fortunately, Baili finds refuge in the home of seven animal keepers: servants and slaves to the emperor of Three Peaks. Yet time is running out. Her servants’ rebellion was only a small part of a much larger plot. Within weeks, her stepmother plans to unite the two kingdoms, not by contract, but by conquest. Baili must reclaim her rightful place and unite not just two kingdoms but many peoples in order to stop the plan. And if she fails, two kingdoms will be plunged into ruin.
Sure to delight lovers of fantasy and fairy tales, this rich and magical Asian-inspired adventure combines Snow White and The Goose Girl in a way you’ve never seen before.
About the Author
Sarah Pennington has been writing stories since before she actually knew how to write, and she has no intention of stopping anytime soon. She is perpetually in the middle of writing at least one or two novels, most of which are in the fantasy and fairy tale retelling genres. Sarah’s first published work, Blood in the Snow, received a perfect score and Special Unicorn status in Rooglewood Press’s Five Poisoned Apples contest. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys knitting, photography, and trying to conquer her massive to-be-read list.
Seven Magic Mirrors
What are the Magic Mirrors?
The Magic Mirrors are seven retellings of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by six different authors, each unique in tone, setting, and moral. From the light hearted and twisted to dark reimagining to futuristic mashups to non-magical historical fiction, this collection has something in it for every reader.
Again, be sure to drop by to see the whole blog tour, check out the other posts, and enter the giveaway!
Well, what do you think?
Sound like a tale you need in on? Because it is! And how about that INCREDIBLE cover by Anne Elisabeth Stengl? *collapses because it’s so gorgeous* I hope you’ll check out Sarah Pennington’s stunning debut, and that you’re looking forward to the other Magic Mirrors books as much as I am! 🙂 Thanks for reading!