Review Blog

May 27 2013

Scarlet in the snow by Sophie Masson

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Random House, 2013. ISBN 97681742758152.
(Age 11+) Recommended. Fantasy. Fairy tale retold. A terrible storm forces Natasha to take shelter in a strange mansion. Inside it is beautiful but eerie - the picture frames are empty and no one seems to be around. In the garden she finds a stunning red rose but when she touches it a fearsome creature appears and demands retribution for her spoiling the only bit of beauty that he had. Natasha is thrown into a huge adventure, as she realises that there has been a wicked spell cast on the Beast and with her deep compassion guiding her, knows that she must rescue him.
The accompanying blurb relates that this story has been 'inspired by two beautiful Russian fairytales - The Scarlet Flower (the Russian version of Beauty and the Beast) and Fenist the Falcon' and while it starts with the traditional themes that I was very familiar with, by the end of the tale, I was astounded about where the story led. It is beautifully told in rich, complex language and lovers of the fairy tale retold genre, as I am, will happily read the story of Natasha and her Beast.
Natasha is a combination of an intelligent, strong personality, overlaid with a goodness that I sometimes found a little difficult to take. However she is an intrepid adventurer, seeking the truth about the Beast, researching old newspapers and travelling to distant lands hoping for an answer that will break the spell that enchants the Beast. Natasha overcame many obstacles to true love, some of which were strange and quite compelling.
Masson has been able to bring alive aspects of the fairy tale setting and her descriptions of Natasha's stay with the witch of the forest was really vivid and memorable as were the sleigh rides and the Beast's mansion.
This is an enjoyable addition to a growing genre of retellings of fairy tales.
Pat Pledger

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