The Raven and the Reindeer – T. Kingfisher

“Once upon a time, there was a boy born with frost in his eyes and frost in his heart.”

Her whole life, Gerta has been infatuated with the boy who lives next door, Kay, despite him being rather cold and inconsistent and just a little bit cruel. When he is spirited away in the night by the Snow Queen, a creature of dark myth, Gerta feels she has no choice but to go and rescue him.

As she journeys to the far north she encounters witches, plant dreams, a talking raven, and a magical reindeer (sort of). Oh, and a bandit girl who kisses her, quite unexpectedly 😉 No matter what happens when they reach the Snow Queen’s palace, Gerta will never be the same again.

I don’t know if I’ve ever read the Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, and if so I don’t remember all that much. And the movie Frozen is probably best glossed over, tbh 😉 None of that really matters, though, because Ursula Vernon (writing here as ‘T Kingfisher’ to keep the darker works separate from her children’s books) puts her own – invariably far better – twist on everything.

I’ve followed Ursula’s blog for years, so I know well her love for plants and animals, and both shine through her work. Thus we get a raven who can speak, but remains resolutely raven-ish and all the more fun for it. He – aka ‘The Sound of Mouse Bones Crunching Under the Hooves of God’ (I mean, how fabulous is that?!) – provides some much-needed levity in an otherwise rather dark tale.

Despite the dark overtones, I really enjoyed this tale. A little bit of research shows that most of the original elements are present, but given a modern spin and thus far less objectionable to the poor women involved! Indeed, all the main characters, and most of the minor ones, are female here, with the main male reduced to the role of ‘princess who needs rescued’. Refreshing!

Kindle: 191 pages / 40 chapters
First published: 2016
Series: could be loosely linked with other fairy tale retellings, Bryony and Roses, and The Seventh Bride
Read from 19th-21st December 2016

My rating: 8/10

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