& Review: Poison by Sarah Pinborough

Poison by Sarah Pinborough. Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Publisher: Titan Books

Poison by Sarah Pinborough. Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Publisher: Titan Books

The Book Itself: I fell in cover love with this book. It’s gorgeous, a hardcover in a thick linen material, and the pictures are indented into the surface in vivid colors.

My Review: An enticing contemporary retelling of the classic story of Snow White. While the the handsome prince, the jealous queen, the beautiful girl and of course the poison all appear, Sarah Pinborough’s charming and provocative spin on the story will captivate fans of the fairy tale all over again.

The first of three brand-new retellings of classic fairy tales by Sarah Pinborough.

I mentioned in a Friday post a while back that I fell in cover love with this series of twisted fairy tale books from Sarah Pinborough. They’re also super short. I think I read Poison in a day. Yay for rainy afternoon reads!

Twisted/fractured fairy tales are a dime a dozen. People love to retell childhood favorite with a touch of modern day cynicism and darkness to them. I think Poison does a good job with its dark mood, but some of the characters and scenes definitely could have been expanded. It feels a little too abrupt, a little too linear and borrowed.

So here we have Snow White. We have her jealous, beautiful-but-not-quite-beautiful-enough stepmother. There is the woodcutter and the prince and even the dwarves. But everybody’s got a touch of madness in them. We have a dwarf named Dreamy. Our stepmother character almost becomes sympathetic. Our prince is prejudiced.

But they all fall a little flat. Even our Snow White, who we’re supposed to root for, does vapid, un-character-like things. There are a lot of scenes ripped right from Disney…with quite a bit of sex thrown in. As a disclaimer: there are several sexual elements and scenes in this fractured re-telling. So if you or the reader you’re buying this for is sensitive to that, I would stay away (this ain’t a seven year old’s birthday present type of book). Sexuality and sexual agency make an interesting point in the conclusion, but at times it feels gratuitous, thrown in there just for spice and not character development.

So I wish the characters were more developed, and the story fresher. We get the dwarves stacked on top of each other, wearing a coat and dancing with Snow White, we get the woodcutter hunting for Snow White in the woods, we get the poisoned apple, the glass coffin. I was looking for something different, and received a retelling trying to be adult by mentioning sex, but falling flat on delivering a retelling that did something truly different.

My Grade: C-


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