I admit, I cheat. I often pick up a book and read the last chapter of a book to figure out what happened. In this instance, I would have bought Snow Queen’s Shadow anyway, but this sneak peek is what really prompted me to pick it up. I almost started reading it in the Barnes and Noble.
Snow Queen’s Shadow is the conclusion to Jim C. Hines’ Princess Series and it is a great conclusion. By great, I mean that he tied up all the loose ends, such as what would happen to Talia and Snow when Queen Beatrice passed on, Talia and Snow’s relationship, and closed the matter of Danielle and Duchess, the fairy that has been plaguing the princesses since Stepsister Scheme. Not only did Hines tie off all these loose ends, but the ending is just open-ended enough that he could always pick up the series again, if he ever wanted. To me, that is what makes a truly great ending.
And he has found a way to give all three princesses a Happily Ever After, even when Snow White and Talia thought they wouldn’t have theirs.
But, back to the beginning. In the last book, Red Hood’s Revenge, the readers were brought to Talia’s homeland, Arathea; in Snow Queen, the readers are brought to Snow’s home of Allesandria, which is far north, a place of snow and mountains. Where no one in Arathea was allowed to practice human magic, Allesandria is filled with human mages. Every noble and royal has magic in their blood. The secrets of Snow White’s mother are also shown; the former Queen Rose trapped a demon in her magic mirror, the very mirror that Snow White has been using for years. When Snow asks the mirror to accomplish a task beyond its means, the mirror cracks and releases the demon.
If anyone knows the original Snow Queen tale, you know that a shard of ice entered the eye of the boy and that is what drew him to the Snow Queen. Hines uses this method of infection. Snow’s mirror cracks and the glass shard gets in her eye and infects her. Not only does her main mirror crack, but all the little mirrors she has around the castle also crack and some people are cut and get those pieces in their bloodstream. Snow is possessed by the demon and the others follow her orders. Having a bit of the demon in them makes the infected people “see the world for what it truly is.” The demon sees no beauty or happiness, so the infected are the same.
And there is a twist (there’s always a twist): Prince Jakob cannot be infected. And the possessed-Snow kidnaps him and brings him to Allesandria with her; Danielle and Talia follow them, hoping to save Jakob and Snow. Along the way, they learn more about Snow’s homeland and her past; they also end up fighting and fleeing from their friend as they travel through Allesandria.
But to save her son, Danielle will do anything and she contacts the fairy Duchess, whom she dealt with in Stepsister Scheme. She makes an impossible deal: Jakob will spend six months a year with the Duchess in return for the Duchess’s assistance in saving him. The Duchess spends a darkling, a creature that nearly killed the princesses in the first book and accelerated Jakob’s growth in Danielle’s womb.
I keep referring to the other books and I love it. Out of all the Princess Books, Snow Queen’s Shadow was my favorite because you need to remember events from the other books, such as the acts of the Duchess and how the Fairy King and Queen are waiting for her so they can lock her up, Snow White’s and Talia’s backstories (such as Talia’s relationships with women and Snow’s true love, the hunter, Roland), Beatrice’s nearly fatal wound from the knife in Mermaid’s Madness, Beatrice’s personal ship and her unique attributes, Red Hood’s cape and the effects that it has on the wearer and many other details.
And perhaps, the most important thing, how someone will do just about anything to save the person they love. Snow tries to do the impossible to stop Beatrice from dying; Danielle is prepared to give anything to rescue her son; Talia isn’t willing to give up on Snow White when she’s possessed.
I have to tell you, I’ve left out two very key details. One relates to Danielle and Jakob, and it’s the reason that Jakob can’t be infected and why Danielle’s mother was able to linger so long and protect her daughter in the form of a tree. The other relates to Talia and Snow’s relationship, where Talia long for Snow White to be more than a friend, but Snow has already found her true love and watched him die.
Don’t forget, I said that everyone gets their Happily Ever After.