The story is a re-telling of Han’s Christian Anderson’s dark fairy tale, THE SNOW QUEEN. I grew up with my grandmother loved reading them to me before bed, all the way up till.. heck I don’t thinks he ever stopped. It was… a tradition! Part of me feels she perhaps wanted to scare me straight, of course Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales were meant to square everyone straight and with BITTER SNOW the retelling of the snow queen is retold in a way that makes you feel the darkness creeping in while getting excited about a new version of the story. I started reading this in the wee hours of the morning and did not put it down till I was done. It was the perfect length and it opened up the tale, originally told in seven parts, with an ending just enough of a cliffhanger not to be frustrating, but enough to keep me excited to read the next eight.
Last Thursday, December 5th was St. Nicholas’s Eve and being from a family which does celebrate it I had my own traditions to practice. This year mine consisted of a traditional watching of The Sound of Music and a toast of Soy Egg Nog. Our protagonist Gilly has traditions piled one on top of another living in the small town of Bremerton, SOMEWHERE USA. As a teenager she balks at some of them, even though it is hard to do so.. but perhaps she shouldn’t have because this year especially on her 16th birthday where the celebrating coincided with Bellsnichol (St. Nicholas’s Eve) and which in the end turned out to be a bit more exciting than she expected.
This is a great series to grab and start reading with your teenager, boy or girl for that matter, it has everything a good young adult should have in it. I also highly recommend it to those who also love reading fairy tales redone. Lauren Sweet hit it out of the park, hats off to her! Mesmerized would be a good description of how this story is for me. The chilling (pun intended) pulls you in and takes you on the ride. There are some points of excitement, fear and those warm feelings you get when thinking about holiday traditions. Her voice was lovely and the characters are well rounded and filled out just enough to keep me hooked.
Some of the things discussed in the book are how important traditions are to have. In today’s world everyone is so busy and always does things so fast. A story such as Bitter Snow reminds us not everyone and everything needs to be moving at warp speed. Towns like Gilly’s Bremerton is not so much stuck in the past but actively keeps these traditions alive to teach their children the value of holding onto your heritage. We have a town like this in the state where I grew up. Leavenworth, WA. It’s a place many go as tourists, but knowing many folks who live there, it is also a town, heavily steeped in traditions (though not as much as Bremerton’s, such as the RUNNING OF THE DEMONS *grin*) but there are very private traditions which the townsfolk hold dear. In a lot of ways this is one of those reads which bring so many wonderful memories back. But like I said, it is full of lessons to be learned and listened to between the lines, just like traditional fairy tales are meant too… scare you straight, or scare you straight back to what you were suppose to be doing in the first place. As Gilly learns, her decisions do not just affect herself, but end up affecting the whole town…
9.5 out of 10 snowflakes (check out