Length: 90 pages
My rating: 3.5 out of 5
The Festival of Roses is a time of celebration for the village. The roses are in full bloom and ready for harvesting, singing and dancing fill the otherwise quiet night, every maiden gets red roses from her admirers and the one who gets the most will be crowned the Queen of Roses. It’s no surprise when Snow White is crowned Queen, much like she has for many years past. But unlike her younger sister Rose Red, Snow believes her beauty to be more of a curse than a boon. And when her beauty brings to her an ominous proposal, she is only further convinced. But as mysterious strangers find their way to the village, hurt and bleeding, at the end of the Festival’s first day, the proposal pales in comparison to the dangers the village begins to face. A wild beast roams the perimeter, staying just out of reach, young maidens begin disappearing, leaving nothing but bloody trails that lead nowhere and Rose learns something new about herself, Snow and their mother. As the dangers escalate, Snow finds herself pulled to the Huntsman, the stranger whose hideous scars hide deeper secrets. Is there more to the Huntsman as Snow believes? Or will her love take her to the very heart of danger? And what can Snow White and Rose Red, two sisters who hold the fate of their village in their hands, do when they are faced with an evil like they’ve never known before?
Let me begin by saying that Lilly Fang is a gifted author. A wondrous imagination, made stronger by her ability to decorate paper with words, she writes in an engaging and interesting fashion that keeps the pages turning. The writing is reminiscent of Bram Stoker’s Dracula – written from various perspectives as each sister speaks about her own feelings in every new chapter. This kept things moving because you learn something new about the sisters from each experience that they face. The characters that Fang created are easy to associate with – their strengths, their weaknesses, their fears and their joys pull you in. They are not confused about who they are and leave the readers with no ambiguity as to what the characters are capable of.
The story itself was very interesting. Magic, folklore, aspects of fairy tales, monsters and things that go much beyond the ordinary give the story a good amount of fantasy and even a touch of thrills. The only part that I found problematic, and that resulted in my being unable to give this book a 4 star rating, was the rushed nature of everything. It’s not that the story didn’t flow well or that it was disconnected – on the contrary, it managed to be a very interesting read even with its short length. But there was just so much more that it could have related, so much more it could have been. The information was right there, bubbling under the surface, leaving you to simply know about it as you read on (and you would definitely know about it). But I wish that Fang had brought it to the surface. I wanted to feel more of the characters emotions as they were forced to come to terms with things they never knew existed, I wanted to see and feel that change take place in their natures rather than only see the before and after. And I wanted to see a lot more of the fairy tale that surrounded each character. I think there was great potential to make the story a little longer and to give the audience a chance to know more about the secondary characters who were so very interesting.
The end, especially, I found a bit too hurried. There was much that required explanation. A lot of the aspects that contributed to the end were, like other parts, expected to be simply understood. I would have definitely preferred to have seen them explained, just to get the full feel of all that unfolded. Even the events of the end happened too quickly to truly get the picture of all that was happening. All in all, it could definitely have been drawn out comfortably.
Lilly Fang spins a tale of magic, of belief, of fear, of faith and of love in its many forms. Being a short story, Snow White and Rose Red is a quick read that will keep you wondering what happens next. In a nutshell, this book can be described as a fun, quick read that is entertaining, but comes just short of being absolutely great because of its slightly rushed nature. In fact, I think that adding more to the story may add pages, but will definitely be pages that you want to keep turning. Still, the book is a good read for people who enjoy books with fantasy and magic and who have loved the wonder of fairy tales.