Title: Cold Spell
Author: Jackson Pearce
Publisher/Publication Date: Little, Brown, Pub. date Nov. 5, 2013
Be warned, this review contains more spoilers than most of my reviews. Read at your own risk.
Pearce’s Cold Spell is a re-telling of the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale The Snow Queen. The basic plotline remains the same. A boy and a girl are good friends. The boy is bewitched and stolen away by the Snow Queen. The girl sets off and endures numerous trials to rescue the boy. Boy and girl live happily ever after. Cold Spell adds a few additional elements, including werewolves, but sticks to the original plotline overall. Ginny and Kai are a fairly run of the mill teenage couple to begin with, madly in love with one another and assuming that the future will be a bright and beautiful thing as long as they have each other. Enter Mora aka the Snow Queen and suddenly Kai is bewitched and away and no one but Ginny finds this terribly odd. So off she sets on her rescue mission.
Ginny begins the story not too far off the mark from what we see with many teenage girl stereotypes. She’s madly in love with Kai and much of her identity is wrapped up in her relationship with him. Kai is an extremely talented violinist and their plans revolve strictly around his future as a violinist. Ginny doesn’t have much real personality and she repeatedly mentions that she has no real talents or skills, nothing that makes her special. As someone who has taught high school girls before, I find this to be a disturbing concept. There is a multitude of stories out there, in books, tv, and film, that perpetrate this idea that girls and women are dependent on their significant other for their identity. Pearce though does seem to play this up intentionally to help highlight Ginny’s growth throughout the novel.
As Ginny embarks on her rescue mission she encounters a number of helpers along the way. Lucas and Ella, a werewolf tracker and his gorgeous but also kind and humble wife, help teach Ginny the importance of asking for help when needed and offer her a glimpse at what a family can be. Flannery, a strong willed heir to her mother’s throne, offers an interesting contrast to Ginny with her flamboyant personality and abundance of confidence. But like Ginny she is also trying to figure out who she is and where she fits in the world. All these people end up helping Ginny with her quest to save Kai and ultimately end up being the difference between her success and failure. This creation of community is an important one and one of the better parts of the novel because it highlights some of the growth Ginny is experiencing even as much of the narrative relives her past with Kai and how their relationship developed.
Throughout the course of the quest Ginny really does come into herself and she’s very aware of this. She specifically mentions at one point that she realizes that she can stand on her own and that she can exist without Kai. She would be sad to lose him but she begins to realize that the loss of Kai is not, in fact, the loss of her. I will admit, at this point, I did kind of hope that Ginny would rescue Kai and then ditch his ass to go be on her own. Which, while less romantic, I think is a storyline that we need to see more of in all types of literature. By the end of the novel and it’s epilogue, Ginny is a much more defined individual who has found a place in the world for herself that doesn’t revolve solely around Kai which I think is a positive ending. So in the overall, it’s a pretty good re-telling of The Snow Queen and an enjoyable read. Worth checking out if you enjoy fairytales and quest type stories.