Stealing Snow #1
by Danielle Paige
Published on September 20, 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent the majority of her life within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she's not crazy and doesn't belong there. When she meets a mysterious, handsome new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is.
Using her trusting friend Bale as a distraction, Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods. Suddenly, everything isn't what it seems, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur, and she finds herself in icy Algid--her true home--with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she's sure she can trust. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she's destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change the fate of everything...including Snow's return to the world she once knew.
This breathtaking first volume begins the story of how Snow becomes a villain, a queen, and ultimately a hero.
I finally had the opportunity to read one of my most anticipated reads of Fall 2016 and as I finished Stealing Snow, I wasn’t really sure how I felt about it. By the end I wanted book 2 (as well as the prequel I’ve been hearing about) but while reading, I struggled to keep myself engaged. The characters are solid. The writing is solid. The plot, however, had its weak points.
Snow is a ward in an insane asylum. But her residence there doesn’t last long after the story opens as she’s whisked away to another world, Algid, where not only is she the renegade princess but also has quite a bit of power of the snow variety. Fitting, I know. I liked that this fairy tale re-telling focused on one of the “less popular” tales, the Snow Queen (not Snow White, as you may believe from the beginning chapters. Now I’m sure most of you are familiar with another Snow Queen tale, the movie Frozen, and I’ll tell you now that this is definitely not like that.
I liked Snow. I didn’t love her, but I thought she was a decent character. She had a backbone and a will of her own, driven in her desire to find her friend despite the odds. That determination ultimately made her life better and more difficult. We briefly meet a being, the River Witch, who I thought was one of the most interesting characters in the whole book but who had the least amount known about her. She seems caught up in her own desires of returning Algid to better times while also wanting to help Snow, but I was never certain where her allegiance truly was.
Then there are the boys. What fairy tale is complete without them, right? Bale is at the asylum with Snow until his disappearance prompts her adventures. We don’t see a lot of him outside of the beginning and end, and all we know is Snow is madly in love with him. Kai helps Snow on the first leg of her journey along with his “sister” Gerde, playing the quiet broody type. Finally, Jagger occupies the role of lovable rogue and gets his time in the spotlight with the princess.
All that’s fine and whatnot but I’m sure you can guess where this is leading to: love square. That’s right. Not a triangle, a square. Although with Snow at the center you could make a pyramid…
Anyway, yes, it happened and I was horribly disappointed in the book as soon as the signs appeared. I expect cliches and time-old tropes to appear in a fairy tale re-telling. They just happen and it’s almost expected, but not like this. There were the less noticeable ones like the protagonist (who’s clearly not insane) being placed in an asylum to serve the purpose of another character. I just read that same scene in another book a little over a week ago, and have seen it in the past. But not so bad. Evil king? Fairy tale, I’ll let it slide. Love interest? Though not a prince, the original Snow Queen tale has one so all good with that too.
One love interest, not three. And this is why I’m not so keen on the plot of this story. I expected a tale of good and evil as Snow attempts to learn how to control her power while also struggling to figure out who to trust. And you get that! But a good portion of the story is focused first on her and Bale not being together, then her feelings for Bale getting in the way with Kai, and then with Jagger. But all of the guys fall in love with her easily despite her not being the most likeable person. It felt more like Kai and Jagger were thrown in for tension, to make things interesting. I liked their characters, but I didn’t like the romantic subplot circling them. This addition to the story is the main reason I kept putting it down.
Romance aside, Stealing Snow is a solid first novel in a series. I wouldn’t call it a new favorite of mine but I’ll definitely be picking up a copy of the sequel and checking out the author’s other series starting with Dorothy Must Die. For fans of fairy tales and YA romance, this book is a solid choice.