author: Jennifer Donnelly
published: 20 October 2020
publisher: Scholastic Press
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Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen's huntsman. Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman pulled out his knife . . . and took Sophie's heart.
It shouldn't have come as a surprise. Sophie had heard the rumors, the whispers. They said she was too kind and foolish to rule -- a waste of a princess. A disaster of a future queen. And Sophie believed them. She believed everything she'd heard about herself, the poisonous words people use to keep girls like Sophie from becoming too powerful, too strong . . . With the help of seven mysterious strangers, Sophie manages to survive. But when she realizes that the jealous queen might not be to blame, Sophie must find the courage to face an even more terrifying enemy, proving that even the darkest magic can't extinguish the fire burning inside every girl, and that kindness is the ultimate form of strength.
Poisoned is a feminist retelling of Snow White that is based on the Grimm version rather than the Disneyfied version that most think of first. In many ways, it’s darker even than the Grimm tale!
One of the things I loved most about Donnelly’s version is the reimagining of the mirror for the Evil Queen. It always seemed odd to me that such a powerful woman would care so much about being the most beautiful in her land. Her question to the mysterious mirror in Poisoned is very different and, in my opinion, much more in keeping with who the Evil Queen truly is at heart.
I also loved that the Snow White character, Sophie, took her fate into her own hands to solve, rather than being sent into a sleep as she waits for others to save her. Her personal quest allowed her character to grow and strengthen, and I loved the empowerment that gave her character.
The first third did drag for me a little bit, but the last two thirds made up for it. It just took too long for Sophie to work her way up to taking her life into her own hands. Truthfully, the flighty girl she was at the beginning was annoying. In some ways, that really kept me turning the pages, wanting to see her character arc develop into something more, which it definitely did.
The story line was imaginative and dark in all the best ways!