GIRLS MADE OF SNOW AND GLASS, by Melissa Bashardoust, Flatiron Books, Sept. 5, 2017, Hardcover, $18.99 (young adult)
Melissa Bashardoust’s Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a reimagining of the Snow White fairy tale that pays homage to source material but makes a mark of its own.
Girls Made of Snow and Glass features two girls — Mina and Lynet. Both lose their mothers at a young age and both are deeply connected to their fathers, but in very different ways.
At 16, Mina finds herself the outcast of her town. Her magician father is cold and calculated, creating a natural barrier from Mina and the people who live around her. And then Mina discovers the reason her own heart is silent, why she feels no love for anyone. Her heart isn’t even hers. Her father cut the original, damaged organ out and replaced it with one of glass.
Love is limiting, her father says. But beauty, true beauty like Mina’s can get her places. When the two move to Whitespring Castle, Mina heeds her father’s advice and aims high — the king. If she marries him, Mina believes she will finally know love.
Lynet is 15 and looks just like her late mother. It’s a fact she can’t escape; she looks exactly like her. There’s a good reason for that. A magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, and he did it on the king’s orders. Lynet’s father expects Lynet to follow exactly in her mother’s footsteps, but just because she looks like her, doesn’t mean she wants to be the queen.
What’s the point of living up to memories of a dead queen when there’s a perfectly good one to learn from? Lynet would much rather be like her beautiful and fierce stepmother — Mina.
The two have a bond, an understanding that Lynet’s father can’t understand. In fact, it makes him nervous. But that doesn’t matter anyhow. Lynet is almost 16, and her father decides it’s time for her to become queen of the southern territories. The move displaces Mina and drives a wedge between daughter and stepdaughter.
Lynet can’t bear the thought of losing the only mother she’s ever known. But she never knew the anger and hatred Mina has been carrying inside. Lynet must make a choice — win back Mina or destroy her.
Girls Made of Snow and Glass has all the elements of a great fairy tale — magic, love, great quests, strange beings and characters that you want to root for. In fact, what makes Girls Made of Snow and Glass work so well is that the character of the evil stepmother is multifaceted.
The story is told through different time periods and alternating viewpoints that intersect later on. You come to realize how Mina became cold and distant, and that her apparent austerity has little to do with her glass heart. The lines between good and bad are nuanced and make for an intriguing read.
For the most part, Girls Made of Snow and Glass features strong plotting and world building. There was a part, however, about halfway though, where the pacing slows to a standstill. At this point, I almost put the book down for good. I’m glad I stuck with it because the book became much stronger later on. Tighter editing through that middle section would have made this a five-star read. Instead, it’s just a 4.
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