In Melissa Bashardoust’s reimagining of Snow White, the stepmother isn’t the villain–the patriarchy is.
Mina is sixteen when she moves to court and her magician father reveals the truth behind the illness she was mysteriously cured of as a child. She did die, but he replaced her heart with a glass one. Convinced she’s incapable of loving or being loved, she learns to manipulate those around her into adoring her until she rises to power as queen.
Lynet has always been treated as if she might break at any moment, especially by her father, the king. The only person who seems to see her is her stepmother Mina. Then Lynet learns the truth about her birth and the darks secrets those around her have been keeping. Meanwhile, the king starts to shift Mina’s power to Lynet, and Mina begins to understand that only one of them can be the fairest of them all.
Told with alternating points of view, Girls Made of Snow and Glass explores what makes us human: is it our physical bodies? our ability to love? the way we came into the world? our free will? It’s a deftly told tale of love, agency, and identity. Mina and Lynet are complicated and flawed, and Bashardoust illustrates the bond between them with care and detail.
At its core, this novel is about Mina and Lynet’s relationship, the ways we let people see us, and the forces that work to break that bond. In Lynet, Mina finds someone fierce but deeply and effortlessly loving. In Mina, Lynet has someone to finally confide in about the future she actually wants and the fear that she’ll be consumed by other’s expectations.
Mina and Lynet aren’t naturally rivals, but other forces impose the competition to be the prettiest or the most loved is forced upon them. Mina’s father assures her that she will never be loved, except for her beauty, and her peers fear her for the power she wields. Lynet is expected to become a docile and gentle woman, to take her mother’s place as adored queen but powerless figurehead. Her own desires and personality are largely ignored by her father and companions in favor of the veneer forced upon her. Other’s expectations of the two women create a conflict that forces them to come to terms with themselves and the roles they have been forced to play.
If the novel falters anywhere, it’s in the lack of urgency that occasionally bubbles up. A lot of the novel feels like the set up, and the pacing was a bit off at times. However, this is Bashardoust’s first novel, and I’m excited to watch her grow and mature as a writer.
With lyrical prose and a refreshing interpretation of a much-loved fairytale, Girls Made of Snow and Glass is the story of two women who learn to love both themselves and each other.
Release Date: September 5, 2017