BWW Review: GIRLS MADE OF SNOW AND GLASS by Melissa Bashardoust
"Being delicate had killed her mother, and yet he was so eager to bestow that quality on her."
GIRLS MADE OF SNOW AND GLASS, Melissa Bashardoust's debut novel, came out this past week, and it is wonderful. It's very different from many tales out there in that readers are treated to both the stepmother's POV and the stepdaughter's POV--albeit when both are teenagers. So one tale is told in flashbacks and the other as it is taking place. The story is reminiscent of Snow White, and it has been comped as "Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber.
Mina is sixteen and has just found out that her father, a well-known magician, "cured" her illness as a child by replacing her failing heart with a glass heart. She no longer has the ability to love. Then, she discovers that her heart could have been more real if her father had known more about his magical abilities back then. Now, as he saves the king's infant daughter Lynet through magical means, she becomes more flesh and blood and human than Mina will ever be. Mina and her father move to the castle, and Mina eventually marries the widowed king and becomes a stepmother, her life taking turns she never saw coming.
Fifteen-year-old Lynet is sick of walking in her deceased mother's shadow. She's sick of hearing how much she looks like her mother, of how much she she does that her mother never would. Her mother was delicate where Lynet is wild; she loves exploring and hates sitting inside, but her father doesn't understand. When a mysterious new girl enters the castle as the latest surgeon, Lynet is intrigued and follows her everywhere. Once the two become friends, Nadia tells Lynet the secret that had been kept hidden: she was born from magic, shaped out of snow. She's human, but also...not.
ONLY ONE CAN BE QUEEN.
When the king dies unexpectedly, he leaves everything to Lynet. But in order for her to take her place as Queen, she must displace her stepmother...And Mina's not planning to step down lightly.
I really enjoyed delving into the lives of both Mina and Lynet. Interestingly, even though Lynet is the heroine of the story, I felt more intrigued by Mina for the longest time. Lynet's story moves slowly and picks up in the back half, while so much is going on with Mina that I really wanted to get back to the action right away. This method fleshes out both girls well and has you rooting for them both. This isn't a traditional retelling of Snow White: Lynet grew up loving her stepmother. She idolized her. She confided in her before her own father. Mina, too, is not the traditional evil stepmother. Both are complex characters, and I really love the dynamic between them as the facets of their relationship are explored.
The novel is also atypical in how curses are broken, not to mention how magic is used, and these elements were so intriguing to me. They gave the story whimsy and the feel of a fairy tale. It was also empowering to women: In a world where they are controlled by men and have little free will of their own, they both find a way to break the rules and take something to call their own.
In the end, GIRLS MADE OF SNOW AND GLASS focuses on family more than it does love. This is great for every reader who complains that YA focuses too much on romance, that plot is secondary. But it's not so great for all the readers hoping for an epic romance between Lynet and Nadia. There is romance, but it's slow to develop and takes a back seat to the story and the emphasis on family. That said, the two are really sweet together, and I like the way their bond is formed over time and not a result of insta-love!!
Even though this book could be slow at times, I was completely invested in the story and love the unique spin put onto a traditional tale in a way that made it sparkling and fresh. i finished reading my advance copy and rushed out to preorder a finished copy!