Today’s review is for Of Snow and Scarlet by Katherine Macdonald. It’s sort of abbreviated review because I don’t have the final published version of the book in front of me. Unlike the ARC I received of The Shield Road, this was not a ready-for-print PDF, so I don’t feel comfortable speaking to the formatting or anything like. I’ll give a follow-up once I have a physical paperback in my possession next month. (Although, I seriously doubt there will be quality issues. I already own two of Macdonald’s paperbacks, and they are excellent).
Some of you may recall that I wasn’t as impressed with the cover for A Song of Sea & Shore as some of Macdonald’s other gorgeous books. I wasn’t a fan of the different fonts and textures in the lettering on that cover. Of Snow and Scarlet does the same thing, but I think the effect on this cover is much more pleasing.
There’s something very magical in the pop of the scarlet cloak against the wintery background. I do wish though that the author’s name might have been made to pop a little more against those tree limbs. Maybe it’ll look different in print.
Cover is a solid 4 teaspoons.
As with many of Macdonald’s books, this one is a fairytale retelling. It reimagines the story of Little Red Riding Hood. As many of you probably know by now, I’m a little bit picky about fairytale retellings. On one hand, I love them in general, but it can also be difficult for the premise to really stand out. In this case, Macdonald builds on a common theme with Red Riding Hood retellings, which is the introduction of shapeshifters and/or werewolves to the tale. What makes it interesting, however, is in this case we’re dealing with a whole pack of wolves, not one Big Bad Wolf.
I will admit, I was a *little* disappointed to read “omega” in the blurb because we’ve seen those sorts of pack dynamics in every wolf shifter book in the last 40 years and they are… well… kinda wrong. That sort of behavior does emerge in packs in captivity where wolves from different packs were thrown together but… I digress. Here’s an link that explains briefly how leader dynamics really work in wild wolf packs with links to other resources if you’re interested.
I give premise 4 teaspoons.
To me, Andesine read as a typical misunderstood fantasy romance heroine who just wants to be more than what her little village will allow. If this was Disney there would be a big “I want” song early on in the movie. Actually, the one from Beautiy and the Beast would be pretty close without many alterations. Andy is a well written character, but I don’t feel like she really added anything unexpected to the story until just before the epilogue.
Poor Finn. He had a rough life before he really met Andy. If you like really sweet love interests, I think you’ll love Finn. Personally, I would have like to have seen a few more rough edges early on in the story.
Weirdly, I would have liked to have seen more of Vincent, who was the real Big Bad Wolf of this tale. I enjoyed the plot twist around him (although I kinda saw it coming). It would have been nice to see him try just a little harder at being a wolf in man’s clothing to get what he wanted.
Granny was probably my favorite character. That’s all I’ll say about that.
I give characters 4 teaspoons. They were all well written and had great chemistry, but I still found myself wanting just that extra little something.
I mentioned before that I was a little disappointed in the alpha/beta/omega pack dynamics. This is true. However, I do appreciate the way that Macdonald used them. The added magical element really added some interest into what I kind of feel is a tried trope.
I enjoyed the way that we were given hints of the wider world, even though the bulk of the story takes places in a tiny village and/or the woods. The interludes giving us a glimpse into Finn’s life also give us a glimpse into the wider world. That added a lot of depth to a story with a traditionally rather narrow setting.
I give worldbuilding 4 teaspoons.
There’s plenty of plot to enjoy. I was able to guess some of the twists, but not all of them. The author really got me at the end. If there were any plot holes, I didn’t notice them. The pacing was largely fine. I thought the romance was actually pretty quick compared to A Song of Sea & Shore.
5 teaspoons for plot.
If there is one thing Macdonald does well, it is suck you in with her gorgeous prose. It’s enough that I don’t even care that the book flops between first person for most of the story and third person for Finn’s history chapters. This is very similar to the interludes in A Song of Sea & Shore (yeah, I know, I keep comparing them, sorry). If you find POV swapping like that jarring (which I usually do) that might bug you. However, if you can get past it, it’s so worth it. I could almost feel the winter’s bite while reading this book.
Writing is a solid 5 teaspoons.
Macdonald once again invited me into a world of magic and romance. I was once swept away into a story I struggled to put down and devoured quickly. I (thankfully) didn’t need a whole box of tissues this time.
I’m going to do something I’ve never done on the blog before. I am going to give a half teaspoons rating. Of Snow and Scarlet is a 4.5 teaspoons for me, and I will be rounding it up for platforms that don’t allow half star ratings.