I’ve decided to review this book because, while it did have some flaws, or maybe just aspects that were not for me, it also had some great things going for it that I want to talk about. So I’m just going to list it out.
1. FEMINISM! There are plenty of books with female characters who don’t need saving because they can save themselves, and this was one of them, but there’s so much more to it than that. Never did a single character doubt Clara’s (or Anise’s) abilities to fight, plan, rescue, kill, etc. No one was ever like, “No, you stay because you’re a fragile, dainty female!” What’s even better was that Nicholas admitted to Clara, with no shame, that she’s a better fighter than he is. Even Borschalk was afraid of Clara, and he’s this massive, hulking, dreadlocked faery soldier. And Anise, though pretty evil, was a great character on the feminism front, even vaguely touching on things like body image (e.g. “It’s just a body, Clara, the only one you will ever have. Why spend life ashamed of it?“).
2. A really great LGBT message. Clara did have feelings for Nicholas, but she also had feelings for Anise. And guess what? Not ever, not once, not even in a passing thought, was the fact that Clara had feelings for a female considered out of the ordinary. Her feelings for Anise were treated exactly the same way her feelings for Nicholas were. Clara herself didn’t even bat an eyelash at it or question her sexuality because screw labels.
3. A incredibly creative retelling. This book took all the aspects of the original (a man cursed into an object, the battle between rats and toy soldiers, traveling to a fairy tale-esque, snowy land), and then it twisted them all in unique, creative ways and expanded them into this elaborate story. I loved seeing how the elements of the original played out.
4. Likeable characters. Not only was Clara strong, she was empathetic, forgiving, and intelligent, always paying attention, thinking, and trying things in order to save herself and her family. Then there was Nicholas. I’ve already mentioned how respectful and supportive he was, but he was also someone who learned from his mistakes, was willing to risk his life for others, and wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable and admit his flaws. *MILD SPOILER ALERT* Yes, he did something terrible, but he completely, 100% owned up to it, learned from it, did everything he could to repent, and never once tried to defend it, proving that he was truly sincere in his apology. *END SPOILER ALERT*
1. The writing style. The book is set in historical times, and the writing reflected that. Writing style preference is a very subjective thing, and historical just isn’t for me.
2. The plot dragged some in the middle. I was interested in the story and where it was going to go, but, once they were in Cane (the fantasy land where the story takes place), I wanted more to start happening to push the story forward.
I’m really glad I read the book! I actually did enjoy it, despite it flaws, and especially loved the creative way The Nutcracker was retold.
Fans of The Nutcracker or anyone looking for a unique mash-up of faeries, steampunk, magic, and early 1900s America.
Book Author: Claire Legrand
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Christmas, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Holidays, Retelling, Science Fiction, Steampunk, The Nutcracker Retelling, Young Adult
My Book Rating: 3
Setting Location: Fantasy World, New York, USA
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual (Main Character)
Non-Human Type: Faeries/Fae, Mancers/Mages
Romance Type: F-F, M-F
Romance Aspects: Love Triangle
Extra Love: Super Creative