Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly
Published by: Hot Key Books
Released: 20th October 2020
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Beautiful Sophie, with lips as red as blood, skin as pale as snow, and hair as dark as night, is about to come of age and inherit her father’s throne. But Sophie’s stepmother wants rid of her – beautiful she may be, but too weak and foolish to reign. And Sophie believes her, as she believes all the things that have been said about her – all the poisonous words people use to keep girls like her from becoming too powerful, too strong. When the huntsman carries out his orders of killing Sophie, she finds a fire burning inside her that will not be extinguished, and sets off to reclaim what was taken from her. Jennifer Donnelly turns her feminist eye to this most delicious of fairy tales and shows Snow White as she’s never been seen before.
I am a sucker for a good fairytale retelling and 2020 has been a great year for them. So, when I found about about Snow White retelling – Poisoned, I knew it was a book I would love to read. Snow White is one of my favourite fairytales so I was intrigued to see how this retelling would go.
Sophie is about to come of age and inherit the throne, left to her by her father. Sophie’s stepmother, on the other hand, wants to get rid of her, believing Sophie to be too weak to reign over their kingdom. When her stepmother orders her huntsman to kill Sophie, Sophie, with the help of some dwarves, soon starts to fight back and is on her way to reclaiming what is rightfully hers.
Poisoned is a unique retelling of a classic fairytale, but also leaves behind the charm and charisma that we have come to love with the original Snow White story. The author certainly lets the blackness and corruption within the story take the spotlight, and this, in turn, gives it a gritty and murky feel. The distinctive way the story is told, through the point of view of Sophie, and also from a mysterious onlooker captures your interest and wills you to carry on reading the book until the very end.
The plot itself is twisted and at times filled with gloom and a bit of despair. From the moment you start reading you are dropped straight into the brunt of it, and get that feeling that you are at the start of a fast-paced story, filled with action and consequence. As you may expect from a fairytale retelling you do get the same characters, although slightly different than you have come to know and love. In this case, the seven dwarves. The way they work to save Sophie by giving her a mechanical heart, and how they work to keep her best interests at heart, despite Sophie not listening at times, definitely originates with the original tale. Also, the way that we go deeper into the backstory of the evil queen struck a chord with me. As well as fairytale retellings, I do love a villain origin story, and I feel that we got a bit of this within Poisoned.
Sophie certainly grows throughout the story. When we first meet her she is naive, eager to fall in love, and gullible. Believing everything that her stepmother says about her, she lacks confidence and doesn’t know if she’ll ever be strong enough to stand up for herself. However, as the story moves along you start to see little snippets of Sophie changing and come to the end she is confident, strong, brave and willing to fight for what is rightfully hers. Also, despite there, being a romantic subplot within the story, this doesn’t deter from the overall plot, and I guarantee that Sophie would still have had the same character growth, without the romance added.
Poisoned was a unique retelling of Snow White which had me, for the most part fully engaged. Donnelly certainly has a way of bringing new light to stories that we have grown up with and loved, and I for one, wonder what fairy tale she will be retelling next.