- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Argyll Productions (July 23, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1614503893
- ISBN-13: 978-1614503897
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 126 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#324,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #3789 in Mythology & Folk Tales (Books)
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The Raven & The Reindeer Paperback – July 23, 2017
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About the Author
T. Kingfisher is the vaguely absurd pen-name of Ursula Vernon, an author from North Carolina. In another life, she writes children's books and weird comics. She has been nominated for the World Fantasy and the Eisner, and has won the Hugo, Sequoyah, Nebula, Alfie, WSFA, Coyotl and Ursa Major awards, as well as a half-dozen Junior Library Guild selections. This is the name she uses when writing things for grown-ups. Her work includes multiple fairy-tale retellings and odd little stories about elves and goblins. When she is not writing, she is probably out in the garden, trying to make eye contact with butterflies. www.tkingfisher.com
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It is also a story about love and death, summer and winter. It's about everything that is humanly worthwhile, and all of it woven together flawlessly.
Buy it if you want a brilliant read. Or, perhaps, something to change your life.
My only complaint is that there isn't enough detail about where the Snow Queen came from and what she even is. I think you can read her as being a symbol for something though, so that's interesting.
One of the critical reviews says this isn't appropriate for children, but they're just being homophobic. It doesn't go beyond kissing and one euphemistic mention of sex (I doubt if most kids would pick up "tumble" as a word for sex unless they already know enough that one mention can't "corrupt" them further). The characters are naked a few times, but they're naked for practical reasons rather than sexual ones and it's not like there are illustrations.
The arc of the story hews close to the original. Greta’s friend Kay is taken (or chooses to go with?) the Snow Queen, and Greta sets off to rescue him. In this version, she has the aid of a talking raven and, eventually, a robber girl, who quickly becomes her love interest. That’s right, this is a queer retelling!
From the beginning, it’s clear to everyone but Greta that Kay isn’t that great. He doesn’t seem to care about her or see her as his friend, and he just assumes she’ll be there when its convenient for him. He certainly wouldn’t bother to rescue her if their positions were switched. But while the goal of her quest (saving Kay), might not be one I care much about, it’s easy to root for Greta for other reasons. In the process of making her journey, she comes into her own, growing in strength and confidence. I might have liked for her to have more of a realization that Kay’s a jerk, but I think she mostly had it figured out by the end.
In the first sentence of my review, I described this book as full of charm. And that really is the perfect word: charming! The dialogue is snappy, the protagonists are endearing, and the talking animals are simply wonderful. It mixes in the lightness of humorous moments and Greta’s newfound romance with darker elements of the Snow Queen who hurts others just because she can.
My biggest complaint is that the ending is a bit Robin McKinley-esque, you know, where lots of magical stuff happens and the heroine’s at the center of it and probably the cause but not in a super direct way. It’s just not the type of climax I tend to like. Still, different strokes for different folks. I do think The Raven and the Reindeer would appeal to fans of Robin McKinley though (and I count myself in that number!)
The Raven and the Reindeer is also fairly short, at around 200 pages. Maybe it’s a normal length for a novel and I’m just used to longer. I did appreciate the quick read though!
I recommend The Raven and the Reindeer to anyone who likes fairy-tale retellings or f/f stories with a happy ending!
Greta's motivations undergo a major shift during the tale, but she forges forward believably, all the same. Kay is as much a brat as he usually is in tellings of the Snow Queen, but he has his moments when Greta's quest is justified.
The Norwegian and Sámi mythology elements tucked into the tale plump it out nicely.
Love Ursula Vernon's/T. J. Kingfisher's fairy tales-! Ordinary people as heroes, villains both sinister and completely human, and a great sense of humor underlying even the serious and perilous scenes.