I've been a fan of Anna-Marie McLemore since her debut novel, When The Moon Was Ours. Her writing is gorgeous and atmospheric, she always twists fairy tale elements into her stories, and her characters are always equal parts likable and flawed. And, of course, there's always a twist I somehow never see coming.
Her latest, Blanca & Roja, is no exception. This retelling of Snow White and Rose Red tells of two sisters living under the burden of a curse brought upon their family by an ancient ancestor who wanted a daughter so bad she made a bargain with the swans. The swans granted this wish, but at a terrible price. Each generation until the end of time, two daughters would be born, but when both girls were 15, the swans would take one back, transforming one girl into a swan and leaving the other with her guilt. But this was before Blanca and Roja, sisters so alike no one can tell them apart...despite their physical differences. This was before Barkley and Page, two local boys who get caught up in the lives of the sisters and, thus, the curse. This was before a lot of things. So it looks as if the sisters just might survive the curse after all. That is, until Blanca learns a loophole that will save only one of them...and decides to secretly use the information to save her sister. Misunderstandings abound and ancient rivalries are awakened. By the end, the sisters (and the boys too) will be lucky if any of them survive the curse of the swans.
Having not much familiarity with the story of Snow White and Rose Red, I had to do a bit of research. And while it's probably not a story Disney will be adapting anytime soon, I loved McLemore's retelling. Because there's more there than just the original fairy tale. Much more. Alternating viewpoints really allowed me to get to know the characters intimately, and painted a broader landscape on which the story could be told. This also moved the story rapidly along so I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.