Beautiful Sophie, with lips as red as blood, skin as pale as snow, and hair as dark as night, is about to come of age and inherit her father's throne. But Sophie's stepmother wants rid of her - beautiful she may be, but too weak and foolish to reign. And Sophie believes her, as she believes all the things that have been said about her - all the poisonous words people use to keep girls like her from becoming too powerful, too strong.
When the huntsman carries out his orders of killing Sophie, she finds a fire burning inside her that will not be extinguished, and sets off to reclaim what was taken from her.
Jennifer Donnelly turns her feminist eye to this most delicious of fairy tales and shows Snow White as she's never been seen before.
What did I think?
In my opinion, you're never too old for fairy tales and I love reading retellings of my favourite stories from childhood. Before I say anything about the content of the book, I have to mention the amazing cover of Poisoned - the shattered red apple is so striking and of course links in to the story beautifully.
Poisoned is the story of Princess Charlotta-Sidonia Wilhelmina Sophia of the Greenlands, whose name is thankfully shortened to Sophie. Sophie has always been told that she's too weak and too soft to be queen, which suits her stepmother just fine as it means that she can keep ruling with her iron fist. Taking advice from her magic mirror, the Queen decides to get rid of Sophie once and for all and after being left for dead in the Darkwood, seven brothers take Sophie into their home.
Anyone familiar with the story of Snow White will recognise many elements of the story that keep it true to the original tale published by The Brothers Grimm in 1812. Jennifer Donnelly puts her own slant on the story by adding a hefty helping of feminism that allows us to see Sophie evolving from a young naive girl to a strong confident woman. It's actually rather thought-provoking as I'm sure I'm not alone in listening to that nasty inner voice that tells me I'm not smart, pretty, thin or good enough. It's about time we took a leaf out of Sophie's book and tell our inner voice to shut the **** up!
I really enjoyed Poisoned; it's an absolutely fabulous version of Snow White for the 21st century. It may officially be YA but it's definitely a book that can be read and enjoyed by adults, especially those who don't consider themselves too old for fairy tales. Jennifer Donnelly has taken the magical ingredients originally gathered by The Brothers Grimm and whipped up an absolute feast for the eyes; I greedily devoured every single word and will definitely be back for more.
Wonderfully written and perfectly plotted, Poisoned is a magical and courageous tale with a feminist slant that upgrades a familiar story and brings it into the 21st century. It leaves the reader with a strong message to believe in yourself and to listen to your heart rather than to other people. A simply wonderful novel that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.
I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.
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About the author:
Jennifer Donnelly is the author of seven novels and a picture book for children. She grew up in New York State, in Lewis and Westchester counties, and attended the University of Rochester where she majored in English Literature and European History.
Jennifer's first novel, THE TEA ROSE, an epic historical novel set in London and New York in the late 19th century, was called 'exquisite' by Booklist, 'so much fun' by the Washington Post, a 'guilty pleasure' by People and was named a Top Pick by the Romantic Times.
Her second novel, A GATHERING LIGHT, won the Carnegie Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Borders Original Voices Award, and was named a Printz Honor book. Described as 'rich and true' by The New York Times, the book was named on the Best Book lists of The Times (London), The Irish Times, The Financial Times, Publishers Weekly, Booklist and the School Library Journal.
REVOLUTION was named a Best Book by Amazon, Kirkus, School Library Journal, and the Chicago Public Library, and was nominated for a Carnegie Medal. The audio edition was awarded an Odyssey Honor for Excellence.
In 2014, Jennifer teamed up with Disney to launch the bestselling WATERFIRE saga, an epic series about six mermaids on a quest to rid the world of an ancient evil. The first book in the series, DEEP BLUE, was released in May, 2014; the second book, ROGUE WAVE, launched in January 2015.
Jennifer Donnelly lives in New York's Hudson Valley with her husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs.
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