My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I reviewed the first book in Jim C. Hines’s Princess series a few months ago, so it seems fitting to review the last book too. Considering Hines spends the whole series turning known fairy tales on their heads, I wasn’t expecting a tidy happily-ever-after from “The Snow Queen’s Shadow.” This retelling of the snow queen legend is WAY darker than “Frozen.” 🙂
Instead of preserving the princess trio, Danielle and Talia find themselves battling Snow herself when a demon escapes her mother’s mirror and ensnares her with shards of broken glass. When the glass pierces its victims, all they can see is ugliness and hatred.
Though the characters–and by default, the reader–learn early on how demon possession distorts a person’s worldview, it’s still hard to differentiate between Snow and the demon. The demon has her appearance, her mannerisms, and all the insider knowledge of a friend, but everything is tainted by its other-worldly evil. When the villain is an inherently good person whom the other characters know and love, the threat feels much more real.
One of the reasons the stakes seem so much higher in ‘Snow Queen’ is that the possibility of danger reaches every single one of the characters. Nobody is safe and everything we know about the world is at risk. The rest of the series is peppered with minor victories or advances before the bad guy is finally defeated, but Danielle, Talia, and a new ally are thwarted almost constantly here. I expected a bittersweet finish, but Hines kept me guessing at whether he’d included any ‘sweet’ in the climax at all.
Once I got past the initial mix of anticipation and dread, I flew through “The Snow Queen’s Shadow.” Whether you’re entirely happy with the ending or not, I thought Hines wrapped up the story’s loose ends as neatly as possible–while leaving plenty of room for more adventures.