This book reads as an exploration of the brutal truth behind fairy tales. The novel is violent and fascinating, brutal and heart-rending, engrossing and, well, just plain gross. The story is told from several points-of-view, including a young aspiring seamstress, an African nursemaid, and the Queen herself, though much of the book is also written in an omniscient third person. It sounds confusing, and it is occasionally, but it works very well.
The author’s writing is intricate and beautiful. I loved the medieval Scandinavian setting–the author’s integration of her research is flawless, and I enjoyed reading about crazy medieval medical theories.
Once I got over the fact that this was categorized as YA, I enjoyed this book immensely. I think this is really an adult fantasy novel, classified as YA, perhaps to capture those (female) adult YA readers who read fantasy when it is labelled YA, but not when it is adult. However, due to the graphic and frankly disturbing (even for adults) content, I would be hard-pressed to give this as a gift to any teenagers that I know personally. From depictions of rape, venereal disease, failed abortions, and numerous beheadings, this book definitely isn’t for the weak at heart.
Thank goodness for the (mostly) happy ending!
Review of ARC received through NetGalley.