Sunday, 26 May 2013

Poison by Sarah Pinborough

Poison is a beautifully illustrated retelling of the Snow White story which takes all the elements of the classic fairytale that we love (the handsome prince, the jealous queen, the beautiful girl and, of course, the poisoning) and puts a modern spin on the characters, their motives and their desires. 

Poison by Sarah Pinborough will take you for a wicked ride through fairy tales as you have never before imagined them. It is a fresh, and slightly naughty twist on the stories we all know and have grown up with. It has a comfortable familiarity as many different characters, tales and settings are twisted, bent, and woven back together with Pinborough’s signature on them. A signature that brings the characters to life and makes them much more real and relatable while retaining their fantastical traits that have always defined them.

No longer are the dwarves a people happy to mine all day for the benefit of others. Now they are lower class citizens, enslaved by the kingdom, taking on a rougher, dirtier appearance than we are used to. But Pinborough manages to still portray them as a people full of fun and camaraderie. And of course, their beloved friend, the princess called Snow White is still much loved by people and nature, but now she has a more carefree, reckless way to her fun in the forest. And a penchant for enjoying all of the earthy pleasures afforded her.

What fairy tale could be complete without an evil, wicked witch of a stepmother? The evil Ice Queen out to destroy the innocent little princess? Well, maybe not quite so innocent in this tale, but you get the idea. Her part in this is quite enjoyable as we get more insight to her motivations and evil ways than in fairy tales.  No longer is the evil witch just evil for the sake of being evil. She becomes a real character, who is self absorbed and loveless, traits that have caused her to resort to her slightly evil ways and decisions.

Pinborough’s twists also provide cameo appearances by a number of familiar characters after they have been through her wicked fairy tale reconstructive process.  I don’t want to include any spoilers, but will mention Aladdin! His appearance and contribution is by far my favorite of these cameo transformations.

So in a version like this, the reader can’t help but wonder will Prince Charming show up to save the princess and sweep her off her feet? What will she make of him if he does? I can only recommend you read to find out for yourself, because while everything is so familiar, the characters have been redefined in a way that will leave you guessing. This is not your Disney fairy tale. It is much, much better. And much more wicked. 

Poison is available now from Gollancz.


About the Reviewer: Lisa spends her days programming in Java, living the exciting life of a cubicle ridden software engineer. When not at work, she enjoys her time with her husband and two boys. She spends the rest of her free time playing on multiple indoor soccer teams and of course reading, reading, reading. She is ‘new’ to the fantasy genre, having read her first fantasy book in 2010. After reading more and more fantasy, she is now hooked and can often be found around the internet searching for her next book and adding titles to her ever increasing TBR list.

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