Thursday 22 October 2020

Poisoned - Jennifer Donnelly


Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen's huntsman. Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman took out his knife . . . and took Sophie's heart.

It shouldn't have come as a surprise. Sophie had heard the rumors, the whispers. They said she was too kind and foolish to rule -- a waste of a princess. A disaster of a future queen. And Sophie believed them. She believed everything she'd heard about herself, the poisonous words people use to keep girls like Sophie from becoming too powerful, too strong . . .

With the help of seven mysterious strangers, Sophie manages to survive. But when she realizes that the jealous queen might not be to blame, Sophie must find the courage to face an even more terrifying enemy, proving that even the darkest magic can't extinguish the fire burning inside every girl, and that kindness is the ultimate form of strength.

Give me a fairy tale and I'm in, I adore them. In their original form, twisted around, flipped upside down... I'll read it! When Jennifer Donnelly released Stepsister last year I was incredibly intrigued to see what she had done with one of the most popular fairy tales and I loved it. As with Grimm's version she stuck to the darker version of the tales - chopped off toes and all! What was she going to do with one of my favorite stories that could top Stepsister? Quite a lot, as it turns out...

There's a beautiful princess, a handsome prince, an evil step-mother, and a magic mirror - all the necessary ingredients for a retelling of Snow White. Just don't expect the pretty and sanitized versions you may have read up to now. Jennifer Donnelly takes all of the usual aspects of this beloved tale, adds a dash or three of Grimm's darkness and then ramps up the evil factor! 

I absolutely loved her version of Snow White, or Sophie as she is called here. She has been belittled by her step-mother all her life, to the point that she now believes all that she hears people saying about her - weak, foolish, timid, too kind, soft-hearted, and starts to believe that these are indeed bad things to be. When the Queen's huntsman leads her into the forest she thinks nothing of it but we all know what is coming.

From here on out, Poisoned has to be one of the best retellings of Snow White that I have read. Donnelly is not afraid to flip everything you think you know about Snow White, the Evil Queen, and the handsome Prince on its head, lead you in a totally different direction and turn any assumptions you may have about certain characters in the opposite direction. I also loved the addition of a couple of mysterious characters who are unveiled as the story advances, like Stepsister, but more sinister, and definitely more manipulative.

I would recommend Poisoned to anyone who loves fairy tales, to anyone who loves an underdog, and to anyone who loves stories. I picked this book up at around 9pm, fully expecting to read a few chapters and put it down. What actually happened was that I devoured the whole thing by 3am, and wanted to read it all over again. If that's not a sign of a good book I don't know what is! You don't need to read Stepsister to read this one but I hope you do, it's almost as good as Poisoned, and I'm going to read it again now I've finished Poisoned and this time write a review. I sincerely hope that we're going to get more retellings from Jennifer Donnelly as, quite honestly, I think she has done an amazing job with Poisoned and Stepsister.

Huge thanks to Blue at Kaleidoscopic Tours and Hot Key Books for arranging the blog tour and for a gifted copy of the book.

Poisoned - Jennifer Donnelly

Publication Date - October 20th, 2020

Publisher - Hot Key Books

Find - Goodreads | Amazon UK

Jennifer Donnelly is the author of seven novels and a picture book for children. She grew up in New York
State, in Lewis and Westchester counties, and attended the University of Rochester where she majored in English Literature and European History.

Jennifer's first novel, THE TEA ROSE, an epic historical novel set in London and New York in the late 19th century was called exquisite by Booklist, so much fun by the Washington Post, a guilty pleasure by
People and was named a Top Pick by the Romantic Times.

Her second novel, A GATHERING LIGHT, won the Carnegie Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Borders Original Voices Award, and was named a Printz Honor book. Described as rich and true by The New York Times, the book was named on the Best Book lists of The Times of London, The Irish Times, The Financial Times, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and the School Library Journal. REVOLUTION was named a Best Book by Amazon, Kirkus, School Library Journal, and the Public Library, and was nominated for a Carnegie Medal. The audio edition was awarded an Odyssey Honor for Excellence.

In 2014, Jennifer teamed up with Disney to launch the bestselling WATERFIRE saga, an epic about six mermaids on a quest to rid the world of an ancient evil. The first book in the series, DEEP BLUE, was released in May 2014; the second book, ROGUE WAVE, launched in January 2015.

Donnelly lives in New York's Hudson Valley with her husband, daughter, and two
rescue dogs.

Follow Jennifer at or on Twitter: @JenWritesBooks

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