Review: Snow So White

When I saw a Facebook promotion for Snow So White by C. Gockel, I was curious but hesitant. The book was promoted as urban fantasy, which is not usually my cup of tea. When I finally got around to reading it, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it bears more similarities to some lesser-known fairy tales than it does to "Snow White." The accurate marketing also helped me ease into the modern setting and urban fantasy creatures within it like vampires and monsters. I was pleasantly surprised by how strong the book's world-building is and how emotionally connected I felt to the characters. While it may not be the type of fairy tale retelling I'm used to reading, it has a strong sense of what it wants to be.

Cherie lives in a world that is similar to our own with one major difference. One day, the earth was infused with magic, causing ordinary people to gain supernatural abilities, monsters to roam freely, and certain forms of technology to become unnecessary. People who were younger when the change happened had an easier time adapting to it than those who were used to a more traditional way of life. Cherie doesn't have any great powers that she knows of, but she does have two magical grandmothers and a strong bond with a boy nicknamed Jack Frost. Jack is trapped in a mirror world and can only communicate with Cherie through reflections. Jack is older than he looks and first met Cherie through her grandmother, a doctor, who he seemed to have met before the world was touched by magic and he become trapped in an ageless state in the mirror realm. When the book begins, Cherie's beloved grandmother passes away, and she is in a state of mourning when she embarks on an epic quest to free Jack from his mirror prison and escape his wicked stepmother, the Queen.

While it is an extremely creative book in its own right, this story does not really feel like a gender-bent retelling of "Snow White," and I think that plays in its favor. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is the second most commonly retold fairy tale next to "Cinderella," so it was refreshing to see a story that does something completely different with it. I think it works better as a "Snow Queen" retelling. All of the basic elements of "The Snow Queen" are there including a boy who is trapped in an icy prison, a girl encountering numerous perils to rescue him, and a wicked queen who wants to make everyone her slave. In "The Snow Queen," Gerda encounters many supernatural companions who aid her on her quest as opposed to Snow White who spends most of her time looking after the dwarfs in their cottage. In this book, Cherie has a supernatural companion who helps her fight her way to Jack, a vampire named Grendel, who identifies herself as Cherie's grandmother, but due to her age, she is more likely to be an older ancestor of hers. Their companionship plays a major factor in the emotional appeal of the story, especially due to how much Cherie needs a maternal figure in her life after mourning her other grandmother.

Another fairy tale this book reminds me of is "Fairer than a Fairy," which is also about a girl who falls in love with a prince who she can only talk to in reflections. In that story, their communication is limited to the reflection of a rainbow when the hits a specific fountain at a certain angle. "Fairer than a Fairy" also had a brave princess heroine who went on a daring quest to awaken the sleeping body of the prince who talks to her in reflections through his dreams. The love story between Jack and Cherie seems so impossible that the desire for them to overcome the odds and be together is exhilaratingly strong. That is where this book excels despite its complex and occasionally confusing lore. The bond between Jack and Cherie is so strong that it overcomes space, time, and many other powerful forces that fight to keep them apart, which is exactly how a good fairy tale should be told. Even though there were parts of the book that I didn't completely understand due to a lack of familiarity with urban fantasy, my desire to see Jack and Cherie together never faded.

Snow So White by C. Gockel offers a unique twist on fairy tale retellings, diverging from the familiar story of "Snow White" and delving into lesser-known tales like "The Snow Queen" and "Fairer than a Fairy." While it may not fit into the traditional mold of a fairy tale retelling, the book shines in its world-building and emotional connection. The bond between Cherie, and her trapped companion, Jack Frost, is undeniably powerful, driving the reader to root for their reunion despite the challenges they face. Although there were moments of confusion with the urban fantasy elements, the desire to see their love triumph remains unwavering. Ultimately, Snow So White delivers an engaging and satisfying reading experience for fans of fairy tales and urban fantasy alike.


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