by Regina Doman
Someone, and I can’t remember who (SO BAD at remember who recommends books to me! I’m sorry!), recommended this series of fairy tales retold to me. The Shadow of the Bear is the first and is a modern-day retelling of Snow White and Rose Red. I’ve actually always really liked that fairy tale, and was excited to see someone paying attention to it.
Doman tells a story without magic, yet a story that is still most definitely a fairy tale. I really, really enjoyed this book, and am looking forward to reading the rest in the series.
One of the things I especially loved was the way that the beginning of each chapter was a quote from the original fairy tale – that really added context and helped the reader to see the parallels between the original story and Doman’s version. The story was well-paced and the characters were engaging.
The author is obviously a Catholic, and her conservative viewpoints come through strongly in her writing. However, she isn’t obnoxious about it, and there are no “preachy” sections. I would be thrilled to find more YA Christian fiction like this, as I think that Doman has struck an excellent balance between allowing her characters to naturally discuss their religion (and the morals thereof) without making the book into a theology lesson. I also think that the story is strong enough that non-Christian/non-religious readers will also find it enjoyable and intriguing, which, for me, is the hallmark of good fiction: are the story and characters strong enough that even someone who completely disagrees with the author’s viewpoint can still enjoy them? (e.g., I obviously have a lot of disagreements with Elizabeth Peters’s Amelia Peabody books, but the story/characters are strong enough to keep me reading anyway) For Doman’s tale, I think the answer is yes.
Sometimes the writing does get a little … flowery? … for me (one scene where they’re getting on the subway and one of the characters goes off on this thing about how these underground trains remind her of dragons yadda yadda and, I don’t know, it just felt a bit over-the-top with this poetical description in the midst of the conversation; on the other hand, the character has a bit of an overly-dramatic personality, so in a way it fit, lol) but overall the story moves briskly.
Excellent read, 4/5.