Children's Review: Snow & Rose / by Madeleine Riley

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Note: Top Shelf Text received a copy of this text from Kid Lit Exchange in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

I love a good fairytale. When I was in college and working on my own middle grade manuscript, I did a lot of research into the structures, archetypes, and themes of fairytales. After a lifetime of fairytale fanatics, a year of reading research about the original fairytales and writing my own, I feel pretty well-versed in the subject. Snow & Rose is a new middle grade fairytale based on the original tale Snow-White and Rose-Red, which was collected by the Brothers Grimm while traveling through Germany. The story features two sisters, Snow and Rose, after they've experienced a riches-to-rags shift in their life. Once a wealthy family, Snow and Rose lose their opulent lifestyle when their father goes into the woods one day and never returns. After his disappearance, the two girls and their mother retreat to a tiny cottage in the very same woods. There, the girls stumble upon a cast of characters as strange and manipulative as the original fairytale archetypes. The woods are enchanted, and the trees think that it's Snow and Rose who were meant to break the spell.

This story is beautifully told -- the prose is really impressive for a middle grade novel and I loved that it was almost lyrical. I loved, too, that there was something metacognitive about it all -- as if the fourth wall was being broken through real storytelling. At the very beginning of the story, the narrator says, "Snow and Rose didn't know they were in a fairytale. People never do..." and that was the very line that hooked me. Like many of the original fairytales, this story did not shy away from hardship, but unlike the classics, it wasn't gory and did have a happy ending. I thought the relationship between the sisters was interesting, but there was something almost reserved in the storytelling -- as if the story itself was ethereal and hard to grasp. Highly recommended for young readers who like tales featuring magical creatures and mysterious spells, and also for adults who appreciate nostalgia for classic fairytales.

Bottom-Line Rating: 4/5


  • Title: Snow & Rose
  • Author: Emily Winfield Martin
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
  • Price: $13 on Amazon
  • Format: ARC Paperback
  • Source: Kid Lit Exchange