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Think you know fairy tales?  Think again.

Marissa Meyer is back with book 2 of the Lunar Chronicles, the story of Scarlet Benoit.  Scarlet is on a mission to find her grandmother, kidnapped from their farm several weeks ago.  The police have given up, convinced she left on her own, but Scarlet’s not alone – a street fighter nicknamed “Wolf” is helping her.  Those with any recollection of childhood stories will be a little suspicious of his motives, but Meyer manages to keep you guessing for a long time.

And then there’s the little matter of why Grandma was kidnapped.  Scarlet’s grandma was in the military, but that was decades ago.  Surely she couldn’t know anything worth kidnapping her over?

Meanwhile, a dangerous fugitive has broken out of prison.  Cinder, the cyborg from book 1 who lost her foot while running away from the ball, is on the loose!   All she wants is to be left alone, but she knows that’s not an option.  So she’s determined to find out more about her past.  Why does she have no memories before the age of 11?  Is there anyone who knows her story?

And, as the two women strive to find out the truth, the Lunar Queen makes her preparations for an invasion of Earth.

I loved this book.  The characterisation is impressive, the plot moves along at a pace that had me glued to the sofa, and there were enough little twists that knowing your fairy tales doesn’t help you predict what’s going to happen in anything more than a general sense.

In fact, only one thing annoys me – we’re expected to wait until 2014 for book 3!

The mirror swirled with green and yellow, a confusing vortex of colour whirling around a central point.  Slowly, a face emerged from the chaos.  It was the face of a young man, exotic looking but not what any would call handsome.  There was just something slightly off about the way his eyes sat, the angle of his nose, the tilt of his chin.  Nothing that you could put your finger on, but it all added up to something less than pleasing.

He tilted his head and considered the woman before him.  Her question was the same as it had always been, but there was something tugging at his mind.  He cast his thoughts out across the land until he found the source of his troubles.

‘Thou, queen, art fair, and beauteous to see,
But Snow White is lovelier far than thee!’

“What?  It cannot be!  Why, just last week you declared me to be the prettiest in the land.”  The Queen paced back and forth in front of her mirror, frowning.  This would never do.  She was queen, so she should be the fairest!  What if the King’s eyes started to stray?  Or worse, he saw through her trickeries and potions, and realised that he didn’t love her at all?

“I shall send the huntsman to kill her,” she thought.  “He could take her into the woods and do the deed away from prying eyes.  But he might be seen leaving with her, and he might tell someone what he has been asked to do.  He has a softness about him which I do not like.  No, the huntsman will not do.  Far better to arrange for some slight… accident to befall my stepdaughter.”

So thinking, the Queen summoned Snow White to her chambers.  When the girl arrived she stood and smiled.

“My dear, I feel I have not had the chance to really know you since I married your father.  Would you take a walk with me?”

She smirked inwardly as the confusion and hope showed plainly on Snow White’s face.  The silly chit probably thought she wanted to be friends.  Ugh.  It was sickening, how much trust this girl had.

Fighting the urge to sweep majestically out of the room, she consciously slowed her pace to give the impression of an afternoon stroll.  She started a conversation about some trivial matter of palace politics, and paid only enough attention to the girl’s reply to know when it was appropriate to nod and smile.  Fortunately, given a prompt, the girl seemed able to witter on without stopping.

Slowly, they wound their way through the gardens.  After stopping to smell the roses and admire the size of the fruit developing on the apple trees, the Queen suggested they look out upon the city.  They climbed the outer stair to the walls, and there the Queen’s plan had an unexpected boost.  Snow White herself suggested that the view might be better from the top of one of the towers. The Queen was careful not to sound too eager in her agreement, but inwardly was gloating.  There was even a guard close enough to have heard who made the suggestion!

At the top of the very tallest tower, it was a simple matter to manoeuver the girl close to the edge.  A slight distraction, a sharp push, and the matter was concluded.

The Queen was sure to sound suitably shocked when she screamed for help.


Epilogue: The Mirror Swirls

The mirror swirled with green and yellow, a confusing vortex of colour whirling around a central point.  Slowly, a face emerged from the chaos.  It was the face of a young man, exotic looking but not what any would call handsome.

It was the same face that the Queen had looked at many times since she acquired the mirror, of that she was certain.  And yet, there was something different.  Was the skin perhaps paler?  The hair darker?  The lips a touch redder?  There was nothing she could put her finger on, but the face was not quite as off as it had been.

She shook her head irritably and asked her question.

What if…

  • Cinderella’s sisters were aliens?
  • The Little Mermaid finds a waterproof computer and meets the prince online?

What other fairy tales can you amend for the modern world?  What would be the impact on Mermaid society if they had access to computers?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

The Author

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something martial artist who runs two Brownie packs and works full time. She somehow still finds time to write.

Her favourite genres are near-future and alternate world science fiction and fantasy.

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