The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen
Publication: October 4th 2016 by Teen Speed Press
Format: eBook Pages: 85
‘Gorgeously packaged with intricate illustrations from Finnish illustrator, Sanna Annukka, this new edition of Hans Christian Andersen’s well-loved fairy tale, The Snow Queen, is the perfect holiday gift for adults and childrenalike.
Hans Christian Andersen’s magical tale of friendship and adventure is retold through the beautiful and intricate illustrations of Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in deep blue, with silver foil embellishments, The Snow Queen is elevated from a children’s book to a unique work of art. It is an ideal gift for people of all ages.’ – Netgalley
First thing’s first, this is a jazzed up version of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, which was published in the 1840s. I was expecting a story with heavy Christian themes because of the period in which the original was published, but the Christian references were actually toned down – they were there but not on every single page. I’m not sure if that’s specific to this book or if the original was also like this as I haven’t read the original, but I have studied nineteenth-century children’s literature and know it was normal for a children’s book to be submerged in Christian themes and references. So yeah, that was nice.
The story begins with a ‘First Story’ which provides an explanation of a mirror made by the devil. This mirror makes everything good look bad; it would basically tell Snow White that she looks like a rat. Following on, we’re thrown into the ‘Second Story’ in which we’re introduced to the protagonist Gerda and her best friend, Kay. The mirror plays a key role in Gerda and Kay’s story as it results in Kay disappearing one day. Missing her friend, Gerda decides to leave her home to embark on a heroic quest to track down her best friend and bring him back home. YES, girl power. She comes across some interesting characters along the way, such as the Robber Girl.
The Snow Queen has been quoted as being an inspiration for Disney’s Frozen. I could see some similarities; Kay is struck in the heart, there’s a Snow Queen (Elsa) and a reindeer (hi Sven). But it wasn’t exactly the same. For example, the Snow Queen reminded me more of the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia than Elsa from Frozen and Kay’s role had hints of both Edmund and Anna.
The description states that this book is for children, but a part of me was apprehensive about this due to the very very frequent references to death and violence. I loved the Robber Girl; she was hilarious but also cruel. This is just a disclaimer for those of you who don’t want to gift a child a book with these particular themes.
The writing style is almost lyrical, the imagery is vivid and abstract and would be most appreciated by an adult reader. However, I can imagine this being a good bedtime read for a child if the reader puts in the effort to make the grim aspects whimsical as opposed to dark.
Sanna Annukka’s illustrations are what drew me to this book, and I wasn’t disappointed. They were truly beautiful (check out the images below). I liked how poetic the prose sounded when read aloud, and it felt like the illustrations worked really well with the style of the fairytale.
This is a book that would be better enjoyed as a physical copy as opposed to audio or eBook – unless you have an e-reader that lets you see images in colour, but I’d still recommend a physical copy.
With the theme, storyline and such in mind, I think The Snow Queen would make a brilliant Christmas present. Wrap it up all pretty with a silver bow and some snowflake confetti!
Here are some images from the book. Just select the image you would like to see and it will open up to full size.