I’ve loved every one of Zoë’s previous books that I’ve read, especially Shadows on the Moon (which is one of my favourite ever books for it’s mental health & self-harm representation), so when I found out she was releasing a retelling of The Little Mermaid I was ecstatic! And Zoë did not disappoint – this is the most original retelling of the story I’ve ever read & I absolutely loved it!
I was sent a digital copy of this book by the author in return for an honest review.
⚠️ This story includes shipwrecks, drowning, seizures, anxiety, aggressive animals, off-page hunting, a form of modern slavery & gun use ⚠️
This retelling of The Little Mermaid is the most creative & cleverest retelling I’ve ever come across because I never, ever thought I’d read a version of the story where I hated the mermaid! Add in some interesting icy magic, some classic YA royal drama & some great representation of anxiety & seizures, & you’ve got yourself a really great story.
Princess Theoai is the protagonist of this story & we follow her as she is sent over seas, to an unfamiliar land, where she has to marry a Prince she’s never met. As if that wasn’t bad enough, a storm destroys her ship, killing the few companions who made the trip with her, & all of her possessions are swept away to sea, leaving her with nothing of her own & completely alone, surrounded by people that she doesn’t know, or trust. I felt for Theoai very quickly into the story & was intrigued about her memories, which we’re given small glimpses of throughout the book. Theoai is strong & resilient & I totally & completely supported her in her contempt for the young, pretty thing who was also rescued from the shipwreck, despite her not being on the ship prior to the storm.
Something that Zoë is really good at is creating realistic characters who experience struggles with their health. The anxiety & panic attack representation in this story made me connect with Theoai easily, especially as I’ve been really struggling with my anxiety recently, & her coping mechanisms for her panic attacks felt incredibly familiar to me so I really appreciated them being included. Theoai also experiences seizures & the way that Theoai was constantly thinking about what may trigger the next fit, was written so well & shows how much chronic illnesses can haunt you, even if you’re not experiencing an episode or flare-up at that specific moment. Zoë’s work is absolutely a perfect example of how health struggles can be included in fantasy books & I so desperately wish that other fantasy authors would include these things in their stories.
As you should all know by now, world-building is my favourite thing about fantasy books & I love the world Zoë has created; I was desperate to learn everything I could about Theoai’s background & home country, & loved that the story was set in a snowy setting with lots of icy magic. This story is a standalone, even if it doesn’t feel like one for much of the story, but I really hope that Zoë revisits this world with other characters & another story like she did with the Moonlit Lands series, which included Shadows on the Moon & Barefoot on the Wind, because I really want to know more about the magic in this story & about where Theoai grew up.
The ending of The Book of Snow & Silence hit me sideways & there is no way I could have predicted what happened; I was convinced that this was the start of a YA series but I was so wrong & the way Zoë crafted the ending was so beautiful & perfect. Zoë managed to deceive me so many times during this story & there were many literal jaw-dropping moments for me. I really loved this spin on one of my favourite stories & I thought it was genius to not have the mermaid as the main character. I was entirely blown away by how clever the plot was & how much emotion I experienced. I don’t think I can criticise this book at all, it was just really, really good.
Zoë has self-published this book so if you can afford to do so, I know she would really appreciate y’all checking it out (if you have Kindle Unlimited you can find this snowy story on there):
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