Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 709
Snow White Retelling
(Updated: March 30, 2021)
Overall rating
Writing Style
POISONED by Jennifer Donnelly is a YA fairytale retelling of the original Snow White by the Brothers Grimm. In it, Sophie is set to be the next Queen of the Hinterlands, until a huntsman cuts out her heart and gives it to the King of Crows. Luckily, Sophie is saved by seven brothers who are able to fashion a clockwork heart for her. The only caveat is it won’t last forever, which means if Sophie wants to live beyond a couple of months, she’ll have to brave the King of Crows magical fortress and steal her heart back. Sophie, being naïve, trusting, and kind, gets in a lot of trouble along the way, but despite this, these “weaknesses” of hers may be what saves her.

I absolutely love the messages in this book and how they are delivered in a metaphor through Sophie’s heart, or lack thereof. Ideas like: What we need to succeed is already inside us. Kindness always wins. Fear is the thief of joy and freedom. And so many other beautiful pearls of wisdom that are age-old ideas, but ones we need to be reminded of from time to time. Donnelly’s intricate weaving in of these themes makes this story so much more than sheer entertainment or fun— which it is— but it’s also deep, meaningful, and will stick with you for days.

In addition to that, I really enjoy the new characters in this story and how their usefulness is twisted. For instance, Sophie is not rescued by a handsome prince. Ultimately, she’s the one who takes the reins on her own destiny. However, she has a lot of help along the way, particularly from Will and Arno, two characters from modest backgrounds. They don’t have much to offer the princess besides some practical know-how and encouragement, but the fact that they are there with her makes all the difference. That being said, Donnelly’s Snow White pokes at both sexism and classism, drawing interesting conclusions for readers to ponder.

Overall, POSIONED, on the surface, is an exciting and scary adventure through the woods, and underneath, a complex commentary on both society and ourselves. Donnelly doesn’t completely tie up all the loose ends in the last chapter, and I hope that means there will be sequels down the line.

Fans of fantasy or retellings will love this story.
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