Arts & Ent., BOOK REVIEW

Book Review: ”Snow & Poison” by Melissa de la Cruz

You always wanted your very own palace…

Every corner would have a turret, every floor would have red carpet and a throne, your every wish would be a smiling maid’s command. Surrounded by a moat, your palace would be filled with gold and jewels, silk, satin, and handsome princes. Yep, you gotta get yourself a palace but, as in the new book “Snow & Poison” by Melissa de la Cruz, beware of palace intrigue…

Everyone in Duke Maximilian’s castle was buzzing – some with joy, some with suspicion, but Lady Sophie, the Duke’s daughter, couldn’t help feeling apprehensive. Yes, her mother had been dead for some time, but was it really a good idea for her father to marry again?

Once she met her new stepmother, Claudia, Sophie realized that she needn’t have worried. The new Duchess-to-be wasn’t but a few years older than Sophie, and Claudia was as nervous about this brokered marriage as was the rest of the Duke’s palace. 

And so an unusual dual ceremony was set: a wedding and Lady Sophie’s society debut would be held at the same time! Tongues wagged at the preposterousness of it all, but Sophie didn’t really mind – especially after she made the acquaintance of Prince Philip, the son of the king of Spain. If there was such a thing as love at first sight, it happened that night.

But alas, in her haste to be with her charming prince, Sophie made a big mistake that her father had to fix but everything turned out in the end.

Or did it?

On the night of another important celebration, Sophie learned that her life was in danger for reasons she couldn’t control and so she had to leave her home in haste. Was Duchess Claudia trustworthy or was she a witch, as the palace maids whispered? Was Sophie’s life destined to be happily never after?

Exquisitely beautiful teenage royal, check. Potentially evil stepmother, check. Handsome prince and seven little people, check and check. Yes, “Snow & Poison” has everything you’d ever want in a modern fairy tale that snuggles close with a classic. Maybe just not close enough.

There’s a little bit of Peter Pan inside author Melissa de la Cruz’s novel here, and some possible truth, as she says in her author’s note. There’s teenage romance in this tale, a strong heroine, and a few heart-pounding moments. The presence of seven little people in a quaint cottage has a new explanation that seems very plausible, given the story’s timeframe. Readers who grew up on the classic snowy fairy tale will appreciate these updates, but wait. 

There’s also something parents should be aware of: a surprisingly TMI story thread about a wedding night. Eyebrows raised.

Tales like this are usually meant for readers ages 12 to 17. A mere two pages of this book firmly nudge the recommendation to the far higher end of that group. Keep that in mind before you look for “Snow & Poison”: it could be really fun, or it could be a king-sized headache.

c.2023, Putnam


277 pages