Book Talk: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Talk: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa BashardoustGirls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
Published by Flatiron Books on September 5, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Retelling
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale

At sixteen, Mina's mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

Around the time Girls Made of Snow and Glass came out, I saw a lot of mixed reviews. Though it’s unfortunate I’m getting to this book so late, there’s also something nice about coming in after the hype has died down. Generally, when there are mixed reviews, I sort of expect I’ll end up on the lower end of the spectrum, but it’s always lovely when I’m wrong about that, as I was in this case. Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a lovely feminist retelling of Snow White all about found family and the strength of women.

The writing captivated me immediately. Bashardoust’s prose tastes absolutely delicious on the tongue, and Girls Made of Snow and Glass is one of those books where every sentence feels like a well-crafted treat. Reading the prose alone here was a sheer joy.

In Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Bashardoust uses an interesting and risky (at least in YA) technique: the POV alternates between Lynet  and her step-mother Mina. I deem this risky because, when I (or presumably most people) pick up a YA novel, I’m not there to read about boring adults. (As an adult, this hurts me to admit, but it’s true.) This technique does get used on occasion, and generally I find the adult POV boring, even if it’s about the adult as a teen, mostly because you already know how that teen’s life will turn out so it’s just depressing and/or anticlimactic. In this case, though, it really works.

Mina’s story begins in her teen years for the first part of the book but then jumps to the present day. It’s a rare occasion where I think I liked the part with her as an adult better, but the scenes with Mina as a teen were very necessary. Mina has a complex emotional landscape, and her upbringing is central to the plot. Without that view, the novel would not feel as emotionally full.

Lynet’s a reluctant princess. Everyone tells her how much like her late mother she is, especially father. She, however, doesn’t want to be dainty and delicate like this woman she never knew; she wants to be strong and adventurous, much more like her beloved step-mother Mina. I love that Lynet doesn’t have a rhapsodic view of her late mother, and I love even more that she doesn’t hate her step-mother. Just this one twist sets Girls Made of Snow and Glass apart from most narratives. And it’s not one of those cases where her step-mother seems horribly unreliable from the outset and you wonder why Lynet is so trusting; they have a real bond.

Though I’d love to talk about more of the plot of this book, I also don’t want to spoil it, because, though it’s largely predictable, as fairy tales are, there are a couple of little twists that work very effectively. Mina’s father makes a villain more frightful for his realism. Ultimately, Girls Made of Snow and Glass is slower of pace, but the emotional landscape of the two heroines is so rich and well-arced that the book never felt slow at all.

Obviously, the f/f romance was a delight, but it’s also very much not the focus of the novel. Bashardoust handles a couple of the princely moments in very cute, creative ways, and the connection between the girls works. I also love that it’s not instalovey like most fairy tales; it’s insta-attraction, but they don’t rush to the finish line. I would have liked to know more about Nadia; she feels a bit distant to me, which is why this wasn’t a favorite ship, and she did seem a bit young for her role. However, I can’t complain too much because it was cute, and I want more f/f fairy tales ASAP.

Truly, it’s hard to believe that Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a debut novel, because it feels so incredibly polished.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

2 responses to “Book Talk: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust”

  1. I felt the EXACT same way! I liked the romance but wish Nadia was more developed as a character so I could ship it more. And I absolutely loved the writing style, the rich characters, and the twists. It was one of my favorite books last year; I had a feeing you’d love it and I’m really glad you did!
    Morgan @ The Bookish Beagle recently posted…Pre-Order Priorities [3]My Profile

  2. Sarah J. says:

    I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed Girls Made of Snow and Glass. I loved it so much. The time lapse from the past (Mina) to the present (Lynet) was what really sold the story for me.
    Sarah J. recently posted…The Paper Magician by Charlie N. HolmbergMy Profile

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