Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen’s huntsman. Her lips were the colour of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman took out his knife . . . and took Sophie’s heart.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Sophie had heard the rumours, the whispers. They said she was too kind and foolish to rule — a waste of a princess. A disaster of a future queen. And Sophie believed them. She believed everything she’d heard about herself, the poisonous words people use to keep girls like Sophie from becoming too powerful, too strong . . .
With the help of seven mysterious strangers, Sophie manages to survive. But when she realises that the jealous queen might not be to blame, Sophie must find the courage to face an even more terrifying enemy, proving that even the darkest magic can’t extinguish the fire burning inside every girl, and that kindness is the ultimate form of strength.
The beautiful cover drew me to this book and also the synopsis which describes a dark retelling of Snow White and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. Poisoned stays true to the original story for the most part, with the addition of one or two clever and innovative twists by the author. Sophie’s clockwork heart, which has a limited time to beat, clicking and whirring in odd ways, added some tension and urgency to the storyline. The plot is engaging and action-packed and there are a plethora of creatures and other dangers encountered to keep the reader entertained. For a young adult fantasy there are some elements which felt distinctly middle grade; at one point an apron wearing ladybug appeared and there is a spider called Webber who cooked the food. This seemed a bit at odds with the rest of the story, and a complete contrast to the other creatures in the book, however I’m sure the author had her reasons for writing these characters in.
The world is vividly described and the characters are well rounded and explored in just about enough detail to get a feel of their personalities and background history. Even though most of these characters are familiar to us from the original story, the author made them feel fresh and new. Sophie is slightly lacking as a female lead, I prefer to see a gutsy and feisty individual whereas she came across as naïve and a bit too ‘nice’. She does turn it around when she decides her handsome prince is not going to rescue her and goes on a journey to take charge of her own destiny.
Overall, an easy and compelling read and the short chapters make it go by quickly. This is a lightweight fantasy, with some lovely writing and some wonderful little twists to the original tale. Whilst is has bite, it wasn’t quite the dark and twisty tale I was expecting and I felt the author could have pushed the boundaries a little further. Fans of retellings and young adult fantasy will love this tale.
Publisher: Bonnier Books UK – Hot Key Books
Publication Date: 20 October 2020
Rating: 3 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thank you to the publisher via Netgalley for my advanced copy of this book.
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