Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust: A Beautiful Queer Retelling
What: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
Who: Flatiron Books
When: October 10th 2017
How: A copy of this novel was provided by Pan Macmillan Australia for review.
Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale.
At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone–has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.
Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do–and who to be–to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.
Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything–unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.
I loved everything about Girls Made of Snow and Glass. Honestly, I did. There will be no “but this wasn’t great” aspect of this review because… there was nothing that wasn’t great for me. There were, however, two things that I loved best about Girls Made of Snow and Glass and they are:
1) It’s a queer girl retelling of Snow White
First things first: I love retellings. I probably don’t read as many as I would like to but I love them. Some of my all time favourite books are retellings because an author takes a story you know really well and creates something new and beautiful out of that. Second: I love queer books. I mean… if you know my internet presence at all you are probably already aware of this because I never seem to shut up about queer books. So when Girls Made of Snow and Glass landed on my doorstep (literally, the postie throws my packages at the doorstep) I was extremely excited. Queer retellings breathe life into this human-shaped bag of water also known as me.
Even though Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a queer retelling of Snow White, the romance between Lynet and her love interest (who is a girl, and adorable) never takes over the plot. The plot is centred on something else entirely (which will be my 2) just below), and the romance was a delightful addition to that. That’s not to say that the romance wasn’t lovely and feelsy and beautiful. It just didn’t take up more page time than it needed to. I think the balance between the queer romance and the rest of what was happening in Girls Made of Snow and Glass was perfect.
2) It focuses on a mother/daughter relationship
And it SLAYED me. The relationship between Mina and Lynet was not without its problems but I think that’s one of the reasons why I loved it so much. Mina was one of the most complex characters I’ve read about in a really long time, due mostly to her father’s emotional abuse. She doesn’t trust herself or love herself, and because of her glass heart she doesn’t believe she can love or be loved by anyone.
Mina is Lynet’s stepmother, and it was so refreshing to see that she wasn’t evil in this retelling. I mean, she had her moments of doubt and insecurity but for the most part the trope of the evil stepmother in a fairytale was subverted. And it was subverted so beautifully. I want to talk about Mina and Lynet’s relationship more but I also want people who haven’t read Girls Made of Snow and Glass to read for themselves how their relationship is formed, how it progresses, and how it ends up at the finish line. All I will say now is that their relationship was complicated and beautiful and I loved reading about it.
Now, those two things were just the aspects I loved most about Girls Made of Snow and Glass. Other aspects I adored include the writing style, which really made the book feel like a fairytale in the most exquisite way; the fact that Mina was one of the POV narrators – I adored being inside her head and seeing her grow up and change and change again; the cold, desolate, but somehow beautiful setting; the way characters made mistakes but weren’t crucified for them; the utter and absolute loyalty of a certain man made out of glass. There is so much to love about Girls Made of Snow and Glass, and I hope that I have convinced you in any way to pick up this gorgeous book.
© 2018, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.
trigger warning reference to suicide of mother, reference to death of mother, death of father, murder of father, suicidal ideation, unlawful experimentation, bullying, use of ableist language, emotional abuse, and attempted murder (poison)
reference to suicide of mother, reference to death of mother, death of father, murder of father, suicidal ideation, unlawful experimentation, bullying, use of ableist language, emotional abuse, and attempted murder (poison)
I keep seeing this book about. I’m glad to know that you loved it so much. I really should check it out!
You should, Chrissi! It is absolutely worth the read and I highly recommend it :D
Glad you loved this one! Everyone seems to loved it too, and I can’t wait to read it myself! I’m curious about the queer retelling aspect, but I’m also interested with the mother/daughter aspect since we all know it wasn’t supposed to end well… I’m curious of how it would be handled!
Me too! I really hope you like it if you get around to reading it, Tasya! The mother/daughter aspect was EXCELLENT so if you’re interested in that part, definitely give it a go :)
Oh, I need this one. Like right now! I was already curious about it but after you review, I’m pretty sure I’d love it too. You know I love a good queer story – and I like that the romance wasn’t necessarily the main – or only – focus. Sometimes that works, but other times it’s nice to have something else going on in the story. And how awesome the stepmother isn’t evil in this one!
I hope you enjoyed it if you’ve read it already, Lauren! I really think you would like it as well :D The romance was fleshed out enough that even though it wasn’t the main relationship it never felt under-developed, either. And yes, the subversion of the evil stepmother was one of my favourite aspects of this book!
Yesss this was such a good one!! And it’s really exciting to see authors actually working on more queer retellings!?? We truly do need them. And I did love the balance of plot vs romance and also the family dynamics were always interesting ahhhh!! So glad this didn’t disappoint you either!!
I’m so glad you enjoyed this one, too! I feel like it has flown under the radar too much :( There were so many things to love about it, and I’m sure more people would if they only knew about it!!
This book sounds AMAZING. I need it right now!! you’ve fully convinced me I need to read this book, stunning review! Thankyou :)
Charlotte – https://charlotteidek.com
Yay! I’m so glad my review piqued your interest for this one, Charlotte! :)
Oh wow, this one sounds brilliant! And I am loving the focus on the mother/daughter relationship, especially this particular mother and daughter!
It is! And the mother/daughter relationship is one of the most powerful ones I’ve read :)
Oh my goodness, how was this book not on my radar! I couldn’t agree more, retellings are magical. For an author to reimagine a fairy tale for a new audience is incredibly difficult but I love the subtle romance and their motherly relationship. All too often step mothers are always villainised in young adult so this is a breath of fresh air. Beautiful review Chiara, will be ordering a copy this weekend <3 <3
This book seems to have been lying quite low, so I’m glad to have brought it to your attention, Kelly! This retelling was such a different take on original tale, and I absolutely loved it all the more for that. And I agree about step-mothers being the villain in YA so this book was defintiely different in that regard! Thanks, lovely <3 Glad you liked it!
How have I not heard of ‘Girls Made of Snow and Glass’ before this? Surely, I must have been living under a rock to have missed this one because it sounds INCREDIBLE. I like you absolutely adore fairytale reimagining’s but I definitely don’t read them as much as I’d like to. But a fairytale reimagining AND a feminist fantasy?! There’s no way I’m giving this one a miss. I’m literally going to make purchasing a copy my priority come payday. I’m loving that there’s a side of romance and that it heavily features a mother-daughter relationship also, we need more of those! I’m also very excited about the subversion of the evil stepmother trope. Overall, you got me super keen! Thank you for sharing <3
It hasn’t been hyped up very much, which saddens me because it is honestly such an amazing book! I’m so glad you like the sound of it, Sunny, and I hope you were able to get a copy and that you loved it as much as I did!
I was a huge fan of this book, and I loved the mother/daughter relationship too. Mina was such an interesting character to learn about, and even though I didn’t always agree with her decisions I understood the actions and decisions she made. Honestly I loved how this book promoted girl power, and showed the growth of both women throughout the book. It was such a great read and a really amazing retelling!
I’m so glad you enjoyed this one as well, Amanda! I feel like it’s kind of flown under the radar, which is a real shame because it has so many things that are missing from a lot of YA books! I loved the growth of both characters, as well, and how feminist this story was.
When I hear the words ‘queer’ and ‘retelling’ I’m in. It feels like reclaiming the classic stories we grew up with and reshaping them into something that can connect with us in an entirely new way. It’s so interesting as well that the blurb compares the book to Frozen and The Bloody Chamber, because those are two vastly different things! One is wholesome and the other is gruesome, but from what you say I can actually see how those things could fit together.
I’m glad to hear the romance had it’s place in the novel but didn’t distract from the plot. Of course we need more queer girl romance! But also I love plotty books and I love it especially if a book has both. I also love mother/daughter relationships in books, and this sounds lie an incredibly complex one. These characters sound amazing, and I look forward to meeting them for myself! Great review, Chiara!
Yes, I feel the same way. I will honestly never pass on a queer retelling because they give me life!! This book was wholesome and though it wasn’t quite gruesome there were definitely dark elements to the story.
I loved the romance because it was lovely and played its part but never detracted from the more overarching relationship between mother and daughter, which is the one that drove the story, really. I hope you enjoyed it if you have read it since this comment, Helia! And if not I hope you do enjoy it when you get around to it :) Thanks you, lovely!
Holy SHIT, I read the synopsis of this & my immediate reaction was to go order it on TBD. What an absolutely fantastic premise, & I’m so very glad to hear it really lived up to that amazing foundation. (Also, we need so many more mother-daughter relationships in YA, stat – especially ones with characters that are as amazing & complex as these ones sound.) It’s always so wonderful to find a book that you can find no fault in at all. It’s lovely to hear this one was that for you – thank you as always for the beautiful review, dear Chiara <3
YES! I’m so glad you liked the sound of this one, Topaz! Honestly, it is such a hidden gem, I wish more people were talking about how lovely it is. I feel lie mother-daughter relationships in YA are always so toxic? And we need more that are nuanced and varied, like this one was. Thank you so much, lovely <3