*THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*
This definitely wasn't what I was expecting, but in a good way! It has all the elements of the original fairy tale, but with a creepy, steampunk twist!
Jessica is the only child of a Welsh duke and his first wife, who dies at childbirth, and because of that, he loses all interest in his daughter, letting her run wild on the state, befriending the servants and being practically raised by them. Until the day in which, out of the need of a male heir to inherit Kenigh Hall, the duke remarries, this time with a beautiful woman named Anne de Mandador, a widow who is still young enough as to bear him the son he needs.
The story is set in Wales, during the Victorian era, and there were a few things that made this story a lot more original and entertaining. For starters, Jessica is not your typical naïve princess, who doesn't have a clue about what's going on around her, but a confident, free-spirited young woman who faces the same problems any teenage girl faces growing up, but without a person there to explain her the natural changes of her body, the way she evolves with age, or even her duties as a duchess, which she learns the hard way. Her stepmother, in this version, is still obsessed with her beauty and her youth, but instead of being a witch, she's a mad scientist who cast some sort of spell over a necklace and forced a servant, a fiddler named Alan –who plays the mirror part in this story–, to wear it, preventing him from telling the truth about what happens in their private sessions and experiments, as he holds the looking glass in which she examines herself every day.
The seven dwarves are, instead, five misfits half human, half animal, who take her in, and employ her as a maid, as they work as "miners" under the cover of the night, stealing from the rich through the streets of London. And they were the creepiest twist of all. I didn't see that coming in a thousand years, and though I felt a bit disgusted when I found out the truth, it was definitely a clever way to fit them with the rest of the story. Bravo, Tracy Lynn!
I found the way to include Snow’s sleeping spell very original, because it’s not exactly magic, but just another of the evil, sick experiments performed by her stepmother, in pursuit of her always present ambition of youth and beauty. And even better was that what woke her up wasn’t what we all know as her prince’s true love’s kiss. But again, it’s not the ordinary fairy tale we heard or read as kids, so it is very important that things do not take the conventional path.
And I have to say it, finally we have a fairy tale heroine which actually knows her true love before loving him! I mean, in this kind of stories, the love between the characters is instant, but forever, even when sometimes we think, “But they haven’t known each other for more than a few days! How can they get married and live happily ever after?”. But here, in this book, I was pleasantly surprised. Snow’s true love wasn’t who I thought he was, even when I took it for granted from page one. Instead of the typical princess’ love story, Snow really knows the person she falls in love with, and even when he’s not exactly a Prince Charming, she is able see past all his imperfections and faults. Even when she doesn’t exactly recall him, the sight of him brings back a warm feeling that tells her this man is not just any man. It’s not her head the one that remembers him, but her heart. The sleeping spell her stepmother cast over her wasn’t able to extinguish the feelings in her heart, even when it took away her memories.
This wasn’t a predictable book for me, and it just kept me passing the pages to find out more, both about how the story continued, and about the characters’ background. It’s an interesting retelling of the story we all know so well, but with the steampunk touch that makes it a lot more interesting (I’ve never read steampunk before, so it was a whole new thing for me).
I totally recommend it. Read it, it’s really worth it!