Rating: 4 1/2 stars
Alex Flinn does it again. She creates a fabulous, fantastic, fractured fairy tale — this time based on Snow White. Just like the Brothers Grimm , Flinn pulls no punches. The evil queen in the story is pure evil, although she doesn’t start out that way. Violet started out as a homely little girl with a mother who was beautiful. But when Violet learns that she has magical powers, she thinks that magic is the key to happiness.
When a boy, Greg, befriends Violet, she is finally happy. They are best friends for years. But when puberty hits and the pretty popular girl pays attention to Greg, he drops Violet in a flash. Nice guy, huh?
Well, Violet decides that if she can make herself the prettiest girl in the world, she can get him back. Or can she? Violet narrates the first part of the story, and the reader sees how the magic — and the beauty — change Violet from someone who is kind and gentle and loves animals into someone truly horrible.
The girls who made her life torture? The especially pretty girl who stole Violet’s friend Greg? Violet finds that she has the ability to communicate with animals and can make them do what she wants. She makes a dog attack Jennifer, but is devastated when Jennifer’s scars don’t drive Greg away.
The second narrator is Celine. Her mother, Jennifer, dies mysteriously from an attack while the girl scouts are having an overnight at the zoo. Jennifer has been deathly afraid of animals every since animals attacked her as a teenager (thanks to Violet and her ability to communicate with animals). Celine is there when her mother dies. Violet comes into their life to comfort Greg and, finally, get him for herself.
When Celine becomes a beautiful teenager, Violet’s true nature is revealed (to Celine, not the oblivious Greg). Celine is attacked relentlessly by animals. She learns to hide her beauty behind baggy clothes and no makeup. Things go from bad to worse when Celine accidentally gets the lead in the school musical.
The last narrator is Goose, a person of small stature (seven dwarves, anyone?). This story turns the original tale upside down, and readers will love the outcome. And because it’s a fairy tale, we know that they all live happily ever after. Maybe.
Please note: this review is based on the final hardcover copy provided by the publisher, HarperTeen, for review purposes.