Friday Reads: Poison

It’s Friday Reads and, I’ll be honest, I’ve not read a thing that wasn’t for work. So I thought this week I’d do a Friday Reads about something I’ve read but which none of you can . . . yet!

It’s called Poison, it’s by Sarah Pinborough, and it’s the updated tale of Snow White. Watch the blog for more news, including cover reveals and maybe even a sneak preview in the New Year. We’ll be publishing a beautiful little illustrated hardback (and I really do mean beautiful; the illustrations are by the superb Les Edwards) in April 2013, and you don’t want to miss it!

But I’ve had the privilege of having read it already!

And I can tell you this is Snow White as you’ve never seen her before.

Imagine the traditional fairytale world. The absent king, the wicked queen, the beautiful princess. The feudal system is in place, magic is real, and a handsome prince is about to enter stage left to save the day. It’s a magical story, a very familiar one, and one of the things I loved so much about Poison was the way it recalls all the pleasure of the traditional tale with a few magical – or not so magical – twists of its own. And it’s all in the characterisation.

There is a wonderful sense of nostalgia. There is the pleasure of a great story retold well (and, let’s face it, with Once Upon a Time, Grimm, Snow White and the Huntsman, Mirror Mirror, Red Riding Hood and more, that does seem to be very popular at the moment!) . There is the pleasure of evocative writing telling a tale simply and well. And there is, vitally, the pleasure of familiar characters given a fantastic twist. Because one of the things about a story we know well is that, after a while, we stop seeing the story and the characters, and simply travel along the familiar, well-worn route instead.

You won’t with Poison. And if you thought you knew Snow White, you might need to think again!

What is the wicked queen’s real motivation? Why would she really try to kill Snow White (and did you know that in the first published Grimm edition, she was Snow’s mother, not her step-mother?)? . . . and what would be going on in a prince’s mind, to fall in love with a beautiful but quite evidently dead girl in a coffin?

What are the dwarves mining for – and why? – and what might their lives actually be like? . . . and would Snow White, having been saved by her prince, really find herself living Happily Ever After?

. . . you’ll have to pick up, or pre-order, a copy of Poison to find out! But I really recommend the read. Contemporary, enormous fun, and very smart, this little story is sexy, nostalgic and delightful all in one go. And I for one can’t wait to read Charm . . .