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Snow in Summer: Fairest of Them All by Jane…
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Snow in Summer: Fairest of Them All

by Jane Yolen

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This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn.

Snow in Summer is a Snow White retelling moved to a 1930's small-town setting, and while going in I was really excited about all the potential (especially because it's written by Jane Yolen!), I finished the book with a wrinkle on my brow and a "what in the world did I just read?" look in my eye. Because this book was weird. Just flat-out, honest-to-goodness weird.

For one thing, I wasn't really comfortable with the Satanic vs. Christian themes throughout the book. I think Stepmama is supposed to be some sort of Satanic something-or-other, i.e. a witch, and that alone is really creepy. When you add in the horribly scary church she takes Summer to later in the book and the disgusting caul Summer's Christian aunt/godmother gives her for protection (the caul=a piece of membrane that covered Summer's face when she was born), I was supremely uncomfortable. And grossed out. I mean, can it get much more disgusting than a salted, dried piece of old membrane? The answer is an emphatic no!

I do like the way Yolen took so many different aspects from the original story and twisted them around (like the way the main character's name is "Snow in Summer," and her mother called her "Summer" but her step-mother calls her "Snow"), and I've never read a Snow White story like Snow in Summer. But whereas Yolen's Sleeping Beauty retelling Curse of the Thirteenth Fey (my review) twisted everything in really cool ways that made an awesome new story, Snow in Summer twists things in ways that are . . . well, they're twisted. And repelling. And I really didn't like it.

I don't know, maybe other people would like this book better. I can't really think of any situation in which I would recommend this book, but I suppose if anyone asked me for a really funky/creepy retelling of Snow White with weird religious undertones, this would be my go-to suggestion. Because I don't think any other book fits the bill. ( )
  Jaina_Rose | Mar 1, 2016 |
I am a fan of Yolen's storytelling and enjoyed this re-telling of the Snow White tale. ( )
  lindap69 | Apr 5, 2013 |
A lovely adaptation of Snow White, set in 1920s Appalachia. Not a lot of surprises, but a delightful read from one of the best fairy tale crafters out there.
1 vote LibraryGirl11 | Jan 24, 2012 |
The lovely cover, with its hidden pictures and intertwined stories, perfectly captures the delicate beauty of this fairy tale retelling. Yolen eschews the modern fashion for fairy tale retellings that veer towards cheerful fantasy or contemporary humor and returns to the roots of the fairy tales, weaving signs and superstitions, religion and belief, and the growth and strength of a single character.

Snow in Summer is left almost an orphan when her mother dies. Only the loving care of her courtesy aunt, Nancy, protects her when her father retreats into his own grief-filled world. Until the day he comes home with a strange woman. Summer becomes Snow and Stepmama takes over her life until she forgets what warmth and love are like.

As Summer grows she begins to struggle against Stepmama's power and in a final desperate attempt to escape she makes a new life for herself. In the end, she has her happy-ever-after and frees her family from the evil spell of a dangerous witch.

There is a constant tension throughout the story as the reader waits for something climatically awful to happen to Summer, besides the slow destruction of her life and spirit. The language is simple but beautiful, pulling the reader through the tale to the slow blooming happiness of Summer's conclusion. This is aimed at the older end of middle grade, with much of the magic wound about Summer getting her period and some other more mature themes.

Verdict: Not for every fantasy fan, this is unlikely to appeal to either younger children who like fantasy/humor-themed retellings of fairy tales or older readers who expect a romantic tale. However, if you have children - and adults - who truly love fairy tales and the blending of legend and magic, they will enjoy this carefully crafted retelling.

ISBN: 978-0-399-25663-9; Published November 2011 by Philomel; ARC provided by publisher through Raab Associates
1 vote JeanLittleLibrary | Jan 16, 2012 |
Retelling of Snow White, set in rural West Virginia in the 1940s.

Better than I thought it was going to be. ( )
  readinggeek451 | Dec 10, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0399256636, Hardcover)

With her black hair, red lips, and lily-white skin, Summer is as beautiful as her father's garden. And her life in the mountains of West Virginia seems like a fairy tale; her parents sing and dance with her, Cousin Nancy dotes on her, and she is about to get a new baby brother. But when the baby dies soon after he's born, taking Summer's mama with him, Summer's fairy-tale life turns grim. Things get even worse when her father marries a woman who brings poisons and magical mirrors into Summer's world. Stepmama puts up a pretty face, but Summer suspects she's up to no good - and is afraid she's powerless to stop her.

This Snow White tale filled with magic and intrigue during the early twentieth century in Appalachia will be hard to forget.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:26 -0400)

Recasts the tale of Snow White, setting it in West Virginia in the 1940s with a stepmother who is a snake-handler.

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