As I mentioned in a previous post, this month’s Magic Monday is arriving today, the fourth Monday of the month, rather than the second Monday of the month. I wanted to give a little more leeway between when I read the book and when I reviewed it, as it’s for a book group I recently joined and I didn’t want to spoil anything for them.
Without further ado, however, I present Spinning Snow by R. C. Lewis–a fantastic sci-fi retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
First, may I just say how much I freaking love this cover. Its simple color scheme, the complexity of the circuitry-apple, the way it all flows together into an image that shouts “Pick me, pick me!” I actually bought the paperback, as it was (slightly) cheaper than the ebook at the time of purchase, and I’m so very glad I did.
I’d take a picture of me with it, but unfortunately I’m away from home and the paperback’s with my sister, who hopefully is finding time to read it amidst all her schoolwork!
Now that I’ve squeed about the cover, here’s the blurb, which only further solidified my desire to read this story:
Princess Snow is missing. Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all. Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines. When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. In her enthralling debut, R.C. Lewis weaves the tale of a princess on the run from painful secrets . . . and a poisonous queen. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.
First of all, Snow is a mechanic. After devouring The Lunar Chronicles when they started hitting the shelves a few years ago, I was excited at yet another take (though a bit worried about similarities between this book and Cinder.) Thankfully, there was no need to fear–there is little similarity between the two different books.
Best of all, Spinning Snow has the seven dwarves of the original story–only they’re mining drones Snow maintains (and has meddled with enough that they’ve developed their own personalities.) Cue major fangirling from me, a reader who’s always ready to read another story about cheeky, snarky robots.
Snow, or Essie as she calls herself, is an interesting character. She’s been in hiding for years, and wants nothing to do with her family. However, Dane’s arrival, as mentioned in the blurb, ends up yanking her from her (somewhat) peaceful existence and back into danger. Snow struggles to find her footing, but she’s willing to fight for survival–even going as far as to actually fight through hand-to-hand combat in order to buy parts for her drones (or that mess of a ship Dane crashed in.) She’s good at fighting, too.
I originally started this story with the intention to savor it, but by now I should know better. The story was polished off in two sittings, and that’s only because I was interrupted during my first reading session. I forget how late I stayed up to finish it, but four a.m. or so sounds about right.
There are some things that didn’t quite sit well with me. Foremost was the immediate hotness of Mr. Crashed and Unconscious (aka Dane). As she assesses the damage to him and his ship, Essie describes him as basically drop-dead gorgeous. Essie is also described as attractive with her pale skin and dark hair. Yes, I know handsome princes and beautiful princesses are a fairy tale cliche, but it still makes me wince when they’re called out so clearly in the story.
Thankfully, that problem was balanced out by Essie not turning into a lovestruck fool; she remained her own, strong character throughout the story and I was able to skim over any further descriptions that made me go “eh.”
Though it’s clear the planets aren’t Earth and its space compatriots, not a lot is said about their relationship to each other. I actually don’t think the name of their sun was ever even mentioned, and most of the planets are only described in one small portion, or as being “hot” or “cold”. I love world-building in scifi, so would have liked to see more of it. However, the story itself was gripping enough for me to overlook this.
Another thing that bothered me was the drones. I would have liked to see more development with them. Dimwit and Cusser (Dopey and Grumpy, I’m guessing) travel with Essie so I saw a little more of them, but the other five barely have any scene time, and since they were one of the reasons I was so excited for this book, I was sad to see them set by the wayside.
The final thing is kind of a two-parter–the villains, Essie’s father and stepmother. Let’s focus on her father first. I can’t disclose the reason why he’s such a bad guy without giving away spoilers, but let’s just say that it was even darker than I expected and not really something I wanted to see in a book I otherwise was really enjoying.
As for her stepmother… It’s clear that she wants Essie out of her way, but I’m never quite sure why. The queen didn’t seem to have any children (at least, I recall no mention of them), so it’s not like Essie was threatening their status as crown prince(ss), and the queen’s already queen. I guess that if she planned on killing the king, then Essie would be in the way depending on how the crown is passed along, but that was never suggested, so I’m left with the flat caricature of an evil stepmother. That’s fine for an old-fashioned fairy tale, but for a novel developed upon said fairy tale, I would have liked more than a flat fairy-tale villain.
Despite its flaws, Stitching Snow was a gripping and delightful retelling that stands on its own in its category. Essie especially helped make it shine, with her strength and determination, as well as the care she shows her companions and her people. I give this story a solid four stars.