Age Range
Release Date
October 20, 2020
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Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen's huntsman. Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman pulled out his knife . . . and took Sophie's heart.

It shouldn't have come as a surprise. Sophie had heard the rumors, the whispers. They said she was too kind and foolish to rule -- a waste of a princess. A disaster of a future queen. And Sophie believed them. She believed everything she'd heard about herself, the poisonous words people use to keep girls like Sophie from becoming too powerful, too strong . . . With the help of seven mysterious strangers, Sophie manages to survive. But when she realizes that the jealous queen might not be to blame, Sophie must find the courage to face an even more terrifying enemy, proving that even the darkest magic can't extinguish the fire burning inside every girl, and that kindness is the ultimate form of strength.

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1 review
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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