Poisoned – Jennifer Donnelly ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A beautiful retelling of Snow White – the Princess doesn’t wait for the Prince in this one!

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 took 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.

I was so excited when this book became available! I adored Stepsister and knew that Poisoned would be just as good!

“Like blood that turned to rubies, and tears that turned to pearls, the ache that would rack her heart was just another of Pain’s strange gifts. From sadness came empathy. From grief came compassion. From anger came resolve. From loss came love. These are the things that make us get up when we fall. Try again when we fall. These are the most valuable jewels.”

This is a familiar tale, though not quite how you remember it. The story kicks off quite brutally from the Huntsman’s perspective and those few pages show just how Grimm this story is and nothing like Disney!

Young Princess Sophie is brutally murdered by the Huntsman and her heart stolen. Though she should be dead, she is saved by seven brothers and a clever spider that happen across her body. They know the true enemy in the Darkwood and captures Sophie’s soul in spider silk before she is lost forever. 

Sophie has always been told that kindness is weakness and to harden her heart to the world but this is impossible for her and more often than not, her demise. Sophie embarks on a tale not just to get her kingdom back but to discover who she truly is. She has a perilous journey through her ravaged kingdom to a dark and mysterious castle to get her heart back. 

Donnelly has a way of writing some characters that are truly endearing such as the seven brothers, spider and ladybug. They are so full of love and warmth that you feel like Sophie does when you read about them, safe. 

Other notable characters within this book are Will and Arno. Will is a common boy who happens upon a princess and helps her because it’s the right thing to do not because of who she is. Arno on the other hand is a perfect example of not judging a book by its cover. He has a story to tell and a heartbreaking one at that. Queen Adelaide on the other hand is a complicated one. Yes she is vile and her actions are abhorrent but you learn the origin of her cruelty and you can’t help but sympathise with her. That being said, I don’t think she is redeemable.

Jennifer Donnelly has a way of writing that makes you completely invested in the story. The questioning tone and narrative make you feel that you are part of the story and it was hard to put this book down. It’s a retelling in which the Princess doesn’t wait for the Prince, she takes matters into her own hands and kicks ass! I love how strong Sophie is and seeing her growth over the book from a gentle and naive young girl to a beautifully strong and empathetic young woman was wonderful.

It was an utterly brilliant book and I am so glad I got the chance to read it before it comes out. It’s one of my favourite books this year. 

I loved it. 

Thank you so much to Hot Key Books for the advanced copy! 

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