Review: Feathers of Snow

I received Feathers of Snow by Alice Ivinya in a book promotion some time ago and recently got around to reading it. After reading her ARC of The Golden Prince I knew that Alice Ivinya was an expert at fantasy worldbuilding. This book is a retelling of "The Goose Girl" that puts a unique spin on it by switching the role of the oppressed protagonist from the princess who was forced to work as a goose girl to the lady-in-waiting who was forced to be a princess against her will. Though the princess role swap is an overused trope, it is less common for a girl to be forced into the role of a princess unwillingly. That said, the plot of this book is nearly identical to Camille Peters' Identity only with less focus on romance, making it less of an emotional journey.

Brianna is a lady-in-waiting to the spoiled and selfish Princess Elyanna who loves to manipulate people and get her own way. When a political marriage alliance is proposed for Elyanna to Prince Jian, whose family has a reputation for being violent brutes, she decides to send Brianna in her place. She shows no remorse about this and makes sure to make Brianna's journey as uncomfortable as possible, which includes a rare reference in fantasy adventure stories to periods. Brianna reluctantly goes along with it because she is terrified of her princess, especially after a traumatic incident she had experienced because of her when they were younger. Much of the book revolves around Brianna trying to get to know Jian while pretending to be Elyanna. She struggles with this immensely because Jian is cold and closed off due to trauma from his own past. As a result, the pacing of their relationship is not ideal.

I felt mostly neutral about both Brianna and Jian as characters. They don't have strong personalities, but their motivations are understandable enough to move the story along. Brianna wants to do what she is told for the sake of self-preservation and because she hates confrontation, and Jian is a soldier who learned to close off his emotions due to his difficult memories. Brianna's relationship with her horse, Falada, who is a direct reference to the original "Goose Girl" fairy tale, is far more interesting than her relationship with Jian. This is a problem for people who are picking up this book in the hopes of a fairy tale romance, although it might be a pleasant surprise to animal lovers. She is bonded to Falada due to her Old Blood, which allows her to understand him when most others cannot. Those who are familiar with the original story already know to expect a tragic outcome for the pair.

This book is a weak introduction to the Kingdom of Birds and Beasts trilogy. Though it ended on a cliffhanger, I did not feel emotionally attached enough to the characters to want to read the next book. The ending is somewhat predictable considering the circumstances. Though the author was most likely saving Elyanna's villainy for the rest of the series, her presence would have made this book much stronger. There are few evil princesses in fiction, and I would have enjoyed learning more about Elyanna's motivations and how she turned into the soulless psychopath that she became. "Princess Switch" stories work best when both characters are explored equally so the reader understands what they need to learn about their new lives when the roles are reversed. Even though Elyanna took on the role of the goose girl from the fairy tale, it is only revealed in dialogue near the end of the book, robbing viewers of the opportunity to experience her misadventures as a commoner.

Feathers of Snow by Alice Ivinya offers a fresh take on the classic tale of "The Goose Girl" by swapping the roles of the oppressed protagonist, presenting a lady-in-waiting forced to be a princess against her will. The plot resembles other princess swap stories with a lesser focus on romance and revolves around Brianna reluctantly standing in for Princess Elyanna in a political marriage alliance with Prince Jian. Their slow-building relationship and Brianna's unique connection with her horse, Falada, add intrigue, but overall character attachment is limited. The book serves as a weak introduction to the Kingdom of Birds and Beasts trilogy, with a predictable ending and missed opportunities to explore Elyanna's villainous motivations.


Sugar said…
Sounds interesting! I recently finished reading a somewhat different retelling of the Arabian Nights, the protagonist becomes queen (naturally) and in Mulan style she used to be an ordinary girl who ends up saving everyone, she is not a warrior but someone kind and resilient ( In this story the prince is possessed by an evil genie, this is the one who kills his wives (the prince lives locked in his own body).
It's called "One Thousand Nights" by E.K Johnson, it's a trilogy, One Thousand Nights, a novella, and Spindle.

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