Girls Made of Snow and Glass
Fans of young adult fairytale retellings won’t want to miss Girls Made of Snow and Glass, a feminist take on Snow White set in a land of perpetual winter. The world building is amazing, and the main characters seem to leap off the page. There’s even a hint of a lesbian romance for those looking for diversity.
Lynet is nearly sixteen, and she looks more like her long dead mother every day. Her father is determined to raise her to be like her mother in personality as well, but Lynet’s love of the outdoors makes this difficult. She’d much rather climb trees than learn embroidery, and no one seems able to tame her high spirits.
One day, a mysterious young woman comes to the castle. Lynet is immediately captivated by her, and this feeling is intensified when she learns Nadia is the new palace surgeon. Slowly, the two young women strike up a friendship that turns to attraction, but their budding romance is threatened by Nadia’s knowledge of a dangerous secret linked to Lynet’s very existence. It seems that Lynet is not the flesh and blood girl the world believes her to be. Instead, her father coerced a visiting magician into creating her out of snow, blood, and magic. Now, Lynet is forced to decide who she really is and where she truly belongs, even if it costs her everything she holds dear.
Thirteen years previously, Mina, the daughter of the same magician, accompanies her father to the palace, determined to catch the eye of the widowed king. Surely, as queen of the land, she’ll finally be free from her father’s machinations. But things don’t go as smoothly as Mina hoped they would. The king isn’t eager to remarry, and it is only by befriending Lynet, the king’s young daughter, that she is able to endear herself to the king and eventually become his wife. But, even after she is crowned queen, Mina struggles to find true happiness. Her husband still mourns his dead wife, and Mina herself is keeping a terrible secret, one that could cause the king to put her aside for good; for he cannot want to be bound for life to a woman with a glass heart, who was created in a fit of pique by her black-hearted, powerful father.
The story is told in alternating chapters from both Mina’s and Lynet’s points of view, so the narrative shifts back and forth in time through the years leading up to Lynet’s sixteenth birthday when her father decides to name her queen in her stepmother’s place. Once close friends, Mina and Lynet are now set against one another as they vie to rule the land they both love.
Both Lynet and Mina are likable heroines, but I found myself more drawn to Lynet. I loved her determination to fly in the face of convention in order to achieve her dreams. She loves her father, but she knows she will have to stand up to him one day, even if she dreads the prospect of doing so. In so many ways, Lynet is fearless, but not in a way that makes her act rashly.
Mina is also quite determined, but she’s also a little more ruthless than I normally like my heroines to be. She cares about Lynet, but I couldn’t help thinking she cared about herself even more. Some of her thought processes rubbed me the wrong way, and I found myself questioning her motivations on more than one occasion. Having said that, it’s important to note that I honestly didn’t dislike Mina as a character. She’s deeply flawed, and so much of her damage stems from the abuse she suffered at her father’s hand. I sometimes wanted her to rise above the ugliness of her early life, and I cheered her on when she managed to do it.
The author has created an original and magical realm where winter reigns supreme, a harsh land, where magic is feared and tradition is held sacred. I loved the bits of lore woven throughout the story, which provided some insight into the history of the world, and added an extra element of authenticity.
I absolutely adored the dash of romance between Nadia and Lynet; my only complaint is that there wasn’t more of it. Lynet has a lot to deal with, so her feelings for Nadia often get put on the back burner, but the time the two spend together is a true delight. Nadia shows Lynet she’s valued as more than a replacement for her mother, and when things go bad between Lynet and Mina, Nadia serves as Lynet’s port in the storm. While the author doesn’t provide readers with a firm HEA, she does give us a sense that such a thing will exist for Lynet and Nadia some time in the future.
If you’re looking for a story with strong heroines who rise up in the face of adversity to become the fierce, independent women they’ve always longed to be, Girls Made of Snow and Glass might just be the book for you. It’s empowering and thoroughly enjoyable, exactly the kind of story I wish I could have read during my own teenaged years.