Title: “The Snow Witch”
Author: Rosie Boyes
Pages (eBook): 259 pages
Original Publishing Date: 1 October 2018
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
“A GRANDFATHER CLOCK. A GLASS LOCKET. A POWERFUL CURSE UNLEASHED ON CHRISTMAS EVE.
“Twelve-year-old Kitty Wigeon can’t wait for Christmas at St Flurries, a grand old manor house in the countryside, until one chilly night she vanishes without a trace.
“One hundred years later… Still grieving over the death of their mother, Kes Bunting and his younger sister Star, are sent to live at St Flurries. They find a house steeped in mystery and brimming with secrets.
“Who, or what, is making footprints in the snow?
“And what evil force is taking a cold grip on Star?
“Wrap up warm as you join Kes, and a cast of eccentric snow creatures, in a race against time to solve a hundred-year-old curse. Will he succeed? Or will the fate of his sister be decided by a shivery kiss from… the Snow Witch?”
Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:
- mentions of parental death
- description of sibling death
- mentions of domestic violence
- mentions of alcoholism
- mentions of gambling
- sexism and misogyny
- racial slur toward and stereotypes about Romani people
Representation in the novel:
I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Another ARC, another time where I completely drop the ball on getting to it.
Listen, I really wanted to love this book. And if it weren’t for the things I really didn’t like, I think this could have easily been a 3.5- or 4-star read for me. But alas…here we are.
The Snow Witch follows Kes and Star as they start to live at St. Flurries, the home of their grandmother. After their mother passed away, they had to live with a foster parent who didn’t act the best toward them until their grandmother was able to gain custody of them. Once there, Kes and Star are able to explore and get to know everyone who works for their grandmother, as well as their grandmother herself. However, Star soon gets sick, and Kes has to figure how to make her better because she’s actually succumbing to a curse.
I’m going to start with what I liked about The Snow Witch: I thought the characters were interesting and cute. It was fun to see everyone interact with each other. I also really enjoyed the setting. When it was warm and fuzzy, it was warm and fuzzy, but more often than not, it wanted me to make a grab for the thickest blanket I had because it isn’t every day I read something set during the winter. The theme surrounding family was nice, too, especially when the book touches on how family isn’t always blood, as well as the theme around friendship. Also? I’m always down for cute snow/ice/winter creatures, and The Snow Witch offers that for sure.
Now…on to the things I either didn’t really like or that made me really annoyed. First, the dialogue. It seemed to me that, whenever a few characters got a conversation going, they would abruptly stop right when it got good. This happened a few times. It’s not that big a deal, but for me, it sort of through me out of the story a little bit.
Second, the ending? While I love a happy ending just like a lot of other people, I thought it was a bit rushed. Again, it’s more of a me thing, maybe that’s just how middle grade books “are,” but it just seemed…eh? I suppose? It wasn’t necessarily bad by any means, but I was a bit thrown how it ended neatly within a few pages.
Third, and this is the huge reason for my rating: the use of the G-slur and the stereotypes perpetuated throughout the novel. If you don’t know what I’m talking about: it’s g*psy. Here’s a great article that explains why the G-slur is considered a slur against Romani people, and why it shouldn’t be used by non-Romani people. And, uh, wow, this book goes full-force into stereotype territory: we not only have the exotic G-slur girl, but we also have the mysterious and evil G-slur witch. Y’all. It is 2018. There is no reason for people to use this slur and these stereotypes. There are so many other tropes to use instead. For example, there could have been just a regular witch or a mage or something other than what was used. I’m just so frustrated, especially since it’s a middle grade book. It would have been so much fun if it weren’t for the fact that negative racial stereotypes were continuously used.
So…yeah. While I didn’t really have any sort of expectations going in because I knew little about the book, I would have liked it a ton more if it weren’t for the continual use of a racial slur and stereotype.