Snow in Summer is written by Jane Yolen. It was published in 2011 by Philomel Books. It is a re-telling of the fairy tale of Snow White set in the mid-1900s. Yolen’s website can be found here.
Genre: Realistic Fantasy
“With her black hair, red lips, and lily-white skin, Summer is as beautiful as her father’s garden. And her life in the mountains of West Virginia seems like a fairy tale; her parents sing and dance with her, Cousin Nancy dotes on her, and she is about to get a new baby brother.
But when the baby dies soon after he’s born, taking Summer’s mama with him, Summer’s fairy-tale life turns grim. Things get even worse when her father marries a woman who brings poisons and a magical mirror into Summer’s world. Stepmama puts up a pretty face, but Summer suspects she’s up to no good. Is Summer powerless to stop her?”
“After Mama died and spring came again, and then summer, Papa became do-less. He hadn’t the energies to tend our gardens and they all began to run to weed and seed, the greens bolting like horses let out of an open stable door.”
“Did Papa fall in love that instant? I was never to know for real. But that woman radiated a power, or so Cousin Nancy would say later. The kind of magic that wraps a man around her finger and drives him to the brink of madness. I don’t know if it was True Love, but Papa was plumb crazy from that moment on.”
Warnings: Cults and cult behavior.
Recommended Age Range: 14+
What I Liked:
For a modernization of a fairy tale, this one’s pretty decent. It follows the tale of Snow White pretty faithfully.
What I Didn’t Like:
I didn’t really like the style Yolen used in writing this tale. Full of “I didn’t know that until much later” and “We thought we had won. But we found out we were wrong” and other similar things. I’m not a big fan of that type of omniscient narration. The switches in POV that Yolen made also took away a lot of the suspense that she had set up in the previous POV.
It would have been nice if we had learned more about Willy or seen him from Snow’s POV before the end. I felt like he was just thrown in to fill a spot required for the fairy tale.
It was simply a very “blah” book (and also somewhat creepy at parts). Nothing stood out as wonderful, amazing, astonishing, etc.
Snow in Summer is a good retelling of a fairy tale, but not great. There were a number of things that could have been improved or done away with altogether, and the style Yolen used sucked out a lot of the thrill of the text.
Coming Up Next: The Ring of Solomon by Jonathon Stroud