Title: Stealing Snow
Author: Danielle Paige
Series: Stealing Snow #1
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Release Date: Oct 6th, 2016 (UK)
Seventeen-year-old Snow lives within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she doesn’t belong there, but she has no memory of life outside, except for the strangest dreams. And then a mysterious, handsome man, an orderly in the hospital, opens a door – and Snow knows that she has to leave …
She finds herself in icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. 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 everything. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate …
A wonderfully icy fantastical romance, with a strong heroine choosing her own destiny, Danielle Paige’s irresistibly page-turning Snow Queen is like Maleficent and Frozen all grown up.
Stealing Snow is set between the fictional world of Algid and a mental health facility in contemporary New York. The heroine, aptly named Snow, spends her life in a mental institution before one day discovering she’s heir to a throne of a faraway land, hunted by the current ruler, the Snow King, because of her magical powers. After an incident at the institution, which results in the kidnapping of her boyfriend, Snow is determined to save her beloved Bale and get him back to New York safe and sound. But she learns that the way to her heart is not so easy and that the road is paved with heartbreak and betrayals.
I’m just going to be frank about this. There’s really no need to beat around the bush. Stealing Snow is not the book for me. It did not sit well with me, and not for a lack of trying on my end. The story starts out promising, I admit, but then rapidly falls into a downward spiral. I cannot pinpoint the exact moment my anticipation turned to disappointment, but in the end it really doesn’t matter. The book is still a hit and miss for me.
Let me start off with saying that the writing in this book is nothing spectacular and not at all appropriate, in terms of style, for its genre. Snow’s narrative sounds more like a contemporary book than a fantasy one. Not to mention that I found almost no trace of world-building whatsoever. Algid’s hierarchy and magical structure is murky and vague and offers no real explanation on how anything works. I am not familiar with Danielle Paige’s other works, but I’m sorry to say that, as a Bulgarian saying goes, she really left her hands on this one. (Meaning: She didn’t do a good job.)
The characters in this book are just as generic as the world they inhabit. First off, we’re supposed to believe Snow has spent her entire life in a mental institution without no real notion of what the outside world is, but sure does act like she’s been out in the Real World for as long as she’s been alive. (At one point she describes the architecture of a building, at length, paying close attention to the Roman and Victorian details.) In addition, I found her whiny and annoying. It’s hard for me to believe she’s supposed to be this Almighty Saviour. There’s also the problematic aspect of having “crazy” characters just for the sake of being “crazy”. (And even more problematic that most of their mental illnesses are excused as being magical beings from another world. What a message this sends!) The only interesting characters were the Robbers, but they get sidelined by Snow’s internal romantic struggles.
Honestly, I don’t even want to touch upon the romance – or should I say romances, plural – in this book. But for the sake of maintaining my review structure, I have to. Remember when I said the story read like a contemporary? Yeah, a very annoying contemporary romance in which we have a million love interests. Snow has enough of them to be able to pick one just by reaching into a hat. She’s so gullible, she falls in love with every guy who so much as gives her a grain of attention. And then, in true cliché romance fashion, each guy realistically goes crazy for her as well. But Snow only has eyes for one. One at a time, that is.
Overall, Stealing Snow is riddled with clichéd, generic tropes. It promises a solid premise, but fails to deliver on that. I’ve seen this marketed as a retelling of The Snow Queen, which was one of my favourite tales as a child. I was excited to see an unapologetic, ruthless girl go after what’s rightfully hers, but sadly got Snow instead. I have no intention of picking up the next installments. It really isn’t for me. But I do encourage you to pick this book up and judge for yourself.