Poison is a beautifully illustrated retelling of the Snow White story which takes all the elements of the classic fairy tale that we love (the handsome prince, the jealous queen, the beautiful girl and, of course, the poisoning) and puts a modern spin on the characters, their motives and their desires.
I did not enjoy this book at all, it was one of the worst if not the worst book I have read all year, and I was truly disappointed by it. I usually enjoy retellings of fairy tales, and the new perspectives that they offer, but that was one of the biggest problems with this book, there was no new perspective.
The plot was basically the same, with a few slight changes, I’m not really sure how the characters can have a modern spin when throughout the book the characters held onto medieval ideals about women and the way they should be acting. I was expecting a lot more, and I was disappointed on so many levels.
The characters, were something completely crap. I was hoping that there might be a whole new identity for each of them, maybe switching the roles, and making Snow White the evil one, etc. Nope, nothing like that, and what made it worse was the fact that the characters were actually horrifically written, there was no depth or added information, nothing that made them worthwhile.
The story dragged and with the pathetic addition of awful sex scenes I wish I’d have put this book down, but the compulsive reader in me made that impossible, and I had to see it through to the end. This was one of those things where I wish I wasn’t such a nerd and could give up on a book just as soon as I decided I hated it.
Onto the in-depth thoughts… Which are just as bad.
The first thing I noticed when reading this book was the unnecessary adjectives or the redundant ways of saying something, for example ‘the bowels of the earth or the mud of the battlefield’ surely mud and earth are the same thing. This is just one example of the long winded and ridiculous way that things are described. I thought that this was one of the biggest problems with the writing, that there was a lot of it without moving very far.
Going through my notes one thing is blatantly obvious, the Queen is the most self-centred person alive in this world. Aside from the obvious complex she has about Snow White there seems to be an overwhelming idea that everyone should pander to her and her every need, which when you’re queen I would have thought it would be your duty to make sure that everyone else was happy.
That’s not even touching on the fact that she thought of Snow White when giving a blowjob to the King, and then carried on. Which for me was more than creepy and other than grossing me out had no other effect on me at all. I was horrified to think that this woman was being left in control of a kingdom with no one supervising her.
One thing that really ground on my nerves was the Queen’s response to the people, and the repetition of having the people’s fear instead of their love, but in the end there was never any attempt to get the people to love her just this overall aloofness that she seems to impose on herself when it suits her. Why would she think that she was above them when she was from a similar background and grew up poor? It baffles me.
There was a redeeming description when Lilith’s childhood with her Grandmother, and the fact that she was playing with ‘children’s bones’. I thought that this was a really interesting viewpoint and I wish that there had been more of this and that it had been expanded on and it would have made the book a little more bearable.
We jump to the birthday ball and the Queen’s stupidity and obvious self-loathing that she projects onto Snow White reconnecting with the people that she grew up around. I found myself becoming bored with the idea that the Queen was hard done by, and it really did ruin the book for me.
We then have the really clumsy introduction of Aladdin and I wasn’t really sure on what the need for him was. It was kind of a distraction from the story which then gave a scapegoat for everything to happen, and the escalation for the Queen’s anger. This was where things became confusing, the Queen punishes Snow White for being wild or beautiful or whatever, and forces her to wear corseted dresses that are too tight and bruise her. She then apologises after realising what she’s done and gives her a comb provided by Aladdin that is supposed to bring her happiness but ends up killing the maid. Now here is where it gets stupid, the Queen escalates to wanting to kill Snow White because she thought the Queen was trying to kill her. Shock horror! Someone believed that you were trying to kill her when a gift that was meant for you killed someone else, and you respond with the need to actually kill them.
That’s not even beginning to talk about the awkwardness of the sex scene between the Huntsman and the Queen, it wasn’t well written, in fact I am still struggling to find the relevance in it within the story. The Huntsman then goes on to lament that there was no affection in what they had done, of course there wasn’t he basically forced himself on her. It was sex and nothing more and it was barely consensual. Oh and that isn’t to mention that whilst he’s still thinking about all of this he goes and has sex with Snow. These sex scenes basically did nothing for the overall plot but made me feel uncomfortable and bored.
Then for a change we have the stupidity of Snow White, now if your step-mother had hired someone to kill you with your father’s money would you not think to write a letter outlining what had happened? But no Snow White vouches to live with the dwarves and allow the kingdom to remain in the hands of a raving lunatic, mentally stable I think not.
And now we have the ending. She swallows the apple but doesn’t digest it, so when the Queen threatens to find the coffin, and she is being transported to the wonderful prince’s kingdom. Oh yes the prince that has fallen in love with her sleeping body, and the piece of apple falls out of her throat and she awakens. The prince and she marry, which is highly unbelievable after all, the whole book she has been adamant that it will be true love she would marry for. Yet she falls into the arms of a man she barely knows and marries him without question. They share their first night together and it is blatantly obvious that she isn’t pure, and all hell breaks lose. He poisons her with the same apple and then leaves for his kingdom with her. Creepy yet totally accurate.
I think I found the worst book of 2014 for me and it was the last one I finished.
[Tomorrow, I’ll have my reading goals for 2015 and how I plan to read throughout the year. Happy New Year!!]