Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent her life locked in Whittaker Psychiatric—but she isn’t crazy. And that’s not the worst of it. Her very first kiss proves anything but innocent…when Bale, her only love, turns violent.
Despite Snow knowing that Bale would never truly hurt her, he is taken away—dashing her last hope for any sort of future in the mental ward she calls home. With nowhere else to turn, Snow finds herself drawn to a strange new orderly who whispers secrets in the night about a mysterious past and a kingdom that’s hers for the taking—if only she can find her way past the iron gates to the Tree that has been haunting her dreams.
Beyond the Tree lies Algid, a land far away from the real world, frozen by a ruthless king. And there too await the River Witch, a village boy named Kai, the charming thief Jagger, and a prophecy that Snow will save them all.
So I’ve taken a solid amount of time before writing this review to try and give myself some thinking space from the book. I was hoping after a break I would change my opinion and give it a higher rating but alas, even space couldn’t change my mind. Snow spends her entire life in a mental institution because as a young child she tried to walk through a mirror, bringing her best friend with her and causing them both harm. This was already a problem for me. Did snow run through the mirror with gloves of steel? How did two young children hurt themselves so badly by something that seems pretty easily fixable with a few stitches. Also, how does walking into a mirror at a young age constitute Snow being insane enough to live in solitude in a hospital her entire life? I like my fantasy to be a little bit believable, especially if some of it is taking place in the real world. I’ll tell you right now, no insurance on earth is going to provide for someone to stay locked up their entire life over something so petty. That’s just where the problems started for me.
This is an ice queen retelling and once Snow traveled to her own land things began to pick up the pace from there (albeit slowly). Snow is searching for her best friend Bale who is kind of her boyfriend and she certainly thinks he’s the love of her life. We don’t see much of Bale to confirm this but honestly from even Snow’s point of view I highly disliked his character. Once Snow finds out she’s able to produce snow and ice magic I started getting annoyed once more. Snow is told that the evil King ruling the kingdom has been basically ruining everybodies lives for many years now and she’s the only person strong enough to stop him. *Insert prophecy here* Snow flat out refuses to fight him, all she is concerned with is finding her boyfriend and getting out of dodge. But to go back to what? The hospital? For someone who was practically imprisoned her entire life unwillingly you’d think she’d be a little bit more keen to protect the people around her who are also theoretically being imprisoned. She knows what it feels like to be locked in a cage.
Then we all of a sudden have a love square? Snow has not one, not two, but THREE love interests. (Team Jagger). UGH. I’m not one to cry about the love triangle trope but good God, three is a little excessive.
Now with all that being sad I didn’t HATE this book. It took a long time for me to read, was certainly boring for a good chunk of it, but did have some fantastic plot twists towards the end. Overall the book just felt like something that I’ve seen over and over again in YA. There was nothing that stuck out to me or that I could carry with me over the years. I rated it 2.5 stars for sheer effort and those twisty plots at the end but I don’t recommend this book honestly. It’s really difficult for me to say that because I love to support authors with all my heart. This just wasn’t worth the time for me and I will not be continuing on at this point. The only thing worth mentioning was that Jagger was the best and only character that stood out to me. If I do end up picking up the second installment to this series it will be so I can see that little angel do good in life. (Also low key have some major skepticism about his character and wanting to confirm my theory).