Hey everyone, and welcome back to the blog! Today, I’m here to talk about a book that was my 75th read of the year – I can’t believe I’ve read so much already! We’re stepping now into a world of enchantment, fantasy and love. So without further ado, let’s begin, and fair warning, there may be spoilers.
A huge thank you to the author for providing this in exchange for an honest review!
The Book of Snow & Silence by Zoë Marriott was published June 2020. This is a stand-alone young adult fantasy that tackles the themes of culture and love, all wrapped up in a truly refreshing adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic fairy tale, The Little Mermaid.
Disgraced Princess Theoai has been exiled across the sea to Siligna to wed Prince Uldar – a man she has never met. The journey is not as safe as it should be, and in a shipwreck, Theoai comes across the young, beautiful and mute Shell. Theoai and Shell are brought to the palace, and a romantic rivalry begins. The bitter, treacherous kingdom is as dangerous as the seas, and it isn’t long before Theoai finds herself drawn to Shell, forgoing their rivalry, and beginning a hesitant, yet endearing friendship…
This was such an enjoyable read, and I thoroughly loved it. I did find the novel slow to start, but I will attribute this to my own mental health issues at the time. This was a novel that I just wanted to keep reading, and it is thoroughly captivating. I started this book on July 2, and finished it this morning (July 4) at 1am – I utterly devoured this!
There is mystery surrounding Theoai and her exile, however, this doesn’t make her weak. This is a heroine who is feisty, unashamed to be herself, but with a soft heart at the centre. She allows herself to feel jealous of Shell, and this was something I could really connect with on a personal level – being jealous of the women around me, who I thought could threaten my personality, because they’re more interesting, intelligent, vastly prettier and wealthier. This is something that I’m still dealing with, but I appreciated this so much, and found that deeper connection with the novel.
Back to Theoia – she is a fierce feminist, who continues to grow from strength to strength. Theoai’s perspective allows the reader to be a witness to the cultural shifts. Her home country of Yamarr is vastly different to Siligna, and not just in climate and wildlife. The descriptions are subtle enough to provide enough information, but to also allow the reader to flesh things out themselves.
Prince Uldar has many sides to him, and I found him almost typical of a spoiled Prince – something that Theoia recognises instantly. Uldar can’t see further than the end of his nose, ignoring his own family difficulties, and being so unaware of his actions. Shell, meanwhile, is mysterious and beguiling, and every time she was on the page, I was drawn further in. Other background characters have been fleshed out, with many layers to their personalities, that it’s truly a joy.
I was a huge fan of the mythology and fantasy aspects – the mere mention of an orca in passing had me squealing so much that my dog tried to knock my iPad out of my hands, and my boyfriend thought I had lost my mind. I love orca’s, so to actually see them represented in fiction was so lovely – you could see them undulating in your mind! This is a huge skill of Marriott’s – her writing has gone from strength to strength, and this is so far from her usual Asian inspired worlds, that it really was a delight. Whilst the characters are so strong, the plot is very well written, with no huge information dumping, with a fantasy world where magical is integral to surviving, yet, is something to perhaps hide.
The themes of feminism and the LGBT representation feel genuine, with growth, and not like tick box exercises – there is so much heart in this, and I found that as a bisexual woman, I felt represented. I can’t speak for everyone’s experience’s though! There are also themes of loss and power that are so well crafted – once again, they are subtle and allow for things to settle in the reader’s brain, to make sense of things, making things so powerful.
This is Marriott’s tenth novel, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds – I’m always excited when I see that she’s writing more books. I’ll definitely be reading the accompanying prequel, Sea Foam, which I already own on Kindle.
You can purchase The Book of Snow & Silence from Amazon, in both Kindle and paperback editions.
So that completes my review of The Book of Snow & Silence. It will be no surprise to hear that I rated this 5 stars, and highly recommend you pick it up too!