I believe a lot of us YA readers are falling victim to the spell that is the cover of this book. It gives the impression that it will be a gruesome retelling of Snow White or some other fairy tale. I’m here to tell you that is not the case. This is not a new story either, it was originally published in 2007 but under a different cover. The story itself hasn’t changed but this isn’t the first time this book has been brought into the world.
A writer named Arthur Ransome has left his home and moved to Russia to become a journalist. He wasn’t aware of the upset taking place in Russia and he quickly finds himself in a very bad place. He ends up agreeing to be a double agent, of sorts. All the while, he becomes romantically involved with the leader’s personal assistant. He has to then choose either to stay and be a double agent, or leave with his girlfriend and take his chances. What he is not prepared for is just how dangerous either option really is, he is cornered no matter what he does.
It is hard to really say what this story is about because I am still confused by it. The way the story is presented is the most confusing thing. It reads like the insane ramblings of a delusional old man. Chapters are actually more like interrupted and random thoughts put to paper. Nothing flows and nothing makes sense. I fell victim to this book and believed it would be an interesting retelling of sorts. I still have no idea what I read because I was lost the entire way. This is such a slow and boring read that I fear it will lost almost everyone within the first quarter of the book. It morphs from fairy tale to Russian fairy tale to Russian history. Those really should not ever be merged together like they were here.
I am not a stickler for a lot of historical fiction so this book did not fully capture my attention. I spent most of my time wondering what I had stumbled in to. Then I was reminded that this is simply a re-branded book from almost 10 years ago. The publishers re-marketed and hoped it would really take off with this new YA audience. I’m afraid it won’t do as well as they hoped because this is still not well written or well delivered.
If you are a fan of Russian history, then this book is for you! If you are looking for a warm and fun retelling of a fairy tale, look somewhere else. I don’t see a lot of people liking this book. I am afraid they are going to struggle with it the way I did. Don’t buy this book, borrow from the library or check it out through OverDrive. That way you can quit and move on with the buyer’s remorse.