Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a real surprise of a novel. Sure, I understood it featured two multifaceted royal ladies, a deconstruction of the Wicked Stepmother trope, and an f/f romance, but I still didn’t expect much from it. The book gleefully shows up your expectations from the first page, in which Princess Lynet is hiding out from her royal duties and finds herself entranced by Nadia, the new court surgeon. The lush writing is just as compelling as the perspectives of Lynet and Mina.
As lovely and nice as Lynet is, Mina’s story is the more engrossing of the two. The latter’s chapters has us follow her from her beginnings as the literal glass-hearted outcast daughter of feared Southern magician Gregory and shows us how she rose to the position of queen using her wits, charms, and her secret ability to manipulate glass. All of her actions have roots in her desperate desire to be loved and her belief that because of her glass heart, she is incapable of love. She’s a bit wicked at times, but she isn’t pigeonholed into the wicked stepmother role. She’s just a human being scarred by rejection and trying to take care of herself because no one else has ever taken care of her.
For the longest time, Lynet is oblivious to her stepmother’s struggles and what life is like outside the eternal wintry wasteland of Whitespring. She’s the pampered princess doing as she pleases with no plans to take up the throne anytime soon. Then her father dies, she finds out Nadia is spying on her for Lynet’s creator Gregory, and Mina somewhat inadvertently chases Lynet out of Whitespring. This is where Lynet’s growth begins as well as her discovery of her own snow-based powers.
WHAT LEFT ME WANTING:
Admittedly, Lynet’s personal and magical growth far outpace her actual movements and decisions, making it feel as though she changes so much from doing so little. Her actions: fleeing the North for the South, learning about her snow powers on her own, finding and mistakenly trusting Gregory, and returning to the North to face Mina once she understands what must be done. This is also when she really begins her relationship with Nadia, but the romance is very mild and I’m a bit sad they didn’t have more time together throughout the book.
Though Girls of Snow and Glass is largely unremarkable and I’ll probably forget about it before long, there’s one thing about it that’s sure to make readers recall it fondly: its focus on the importance of family and familial love. While she’s busy trying to make people love her, Mina only thinks of gaining the romantic love of the king and the worshipful love subjects would have for their queen. Until the very end of the novel, she’s oblivious to how much Lynet loves her as a mother–the only mother Lynet has ever known–as well as to how much she herself loves Lynet as a daughter.
It’s doubtful I’ll ever reread Girls of Snow and Glass, but there’s not a single part of me that thinks reading the book was a waste of time. It’s something like a modern fairy tale with its complicated characters and themes about the many forms love comes in. So yes, it’s a worthwhile read, especially if you want to spend June reading books with queer characters just to gay it up a little extra this Pride Month.