“Snow” is the story of a widow who finds herself invited to a Lord’s house so he can have a good time before he needs to settle down and get married, and leaves a vampire when she is attacked by the Lord’s recently turned ex-lover. That all happens in the first chapter! From there, Neva has to navigate all the changes being a vampire brings on top of never being able to see her family again, and being the center of a prophecy to end vampire’s long lives. Color me intrigued, right? And I was for the most part, as Elliot writes in extraordinarily lovely prose, especially in a fist person POV. But there were a few things that kept me from devouring this otherwise short and interesting story.
Being ripped violently from the only life you’ve known and thrust into the unfamiliar, where the only thing you’ve heard about the creature you’ve become is monstrous tales of beings that hunt human’s for sport, you’d expect that transition to be jarring. And it is for perhaps a chapter or two, and then Neva kind of accepts what she is and begins training and getting into the flow of her new life. Outside of wanting to see her family again, she’s generally nonplussed about her transition. She is confused, and the reason she is turned is shrouded in mystery, which makes sense given those in her immediate circle (such as Eliza and Thedryk) want to ease her in to things, but know they don’t have the time to do so. They try to selectively tell her what’s going on, which I won’t share to avoid spoilers.
However, if I had a dollar for each time Neva asked a rather vital question as to her role in all this and how she was supposed to bring an end to the way of vampire life as they know it… Let’s just say I could go out to dinner a few times over. It became so predictable and frustrating to have Thedryk (well, everyone but Eliza primarily, but Thedryk was the most aggravating) deflect the question and say “We haven’t the time to go into that…” Make the time, dammit! While part of me understands the reasoning for this, because so little gets answered by the novel’s conclusion I feel just as in the dark as Neva does half the time, and it’s not a great feeling.
There is so much going on in this book between all the characters and plots and vampire factions that I feel its short length does it a bit of a disservice. The reader is given hints, given the rough brush strokes of what’s to come that I always felt a bit detached from the characters, making it hard to get swept up in Elliot’s lovely writing. After that first chapter of action, the novel slows down and focuses on the descriptions of the gothic, medieval world around us. While I did enjoy those descriptions it slowed down the pacing until the last 5 chapters of the book. It’s a short read, so easy to get through, but not as quick of a read as I was expecting. I wish Elliot had spent more time focusing on Zachariah’s motivations and really going into more detail about the family of vampire’s Neva is now a part of so I could feel like I had a better sense of why Neva wasn’t made a vampire sooner if she was so vital to them. I wanted to care more about the individuals Neva interacted with who come to defend her towards the end, but you don’t get a lot of that. You get a lot of actual world and scene building, but not as much character development.
The premise of this book is great, I genuinely enjoyed that this wasn’t just another modern teenage vampire love story. I really like Thedryk and the mystery around him (when he’s not telling Neva ‘now’s not the time’) and I think Elliot did a fabulous job teasing out his relationship with Neva. But Neva is where it fell flat for me in terms of characters. I just couldn’t connect with her. She only puts her foot down once when she demands to see her family, she never does that when it comes to getting any other answers. She also doesn’t react the way I think she should, or would, especially at the end when truly horrific things start to happen. I think, as a character, she has great potential to grow, it just wasn’t there for the first book in the series.
One more thing I will say, while I enjoyed the more gothic tone of this world and the vampires, they don’t feel like traditional vampires, either. I am torn on how much I like that or not. They drink blood, yes, and can’t go out in the sun, and are hard to kill, but they just didn’t feel like the vampires of lore. Which is both good and bad, and that is mostly my personal preference on what I prefer in my supernatural beings. They had a purpose for existing, but that, too, was a bit vague given the questions left unanswered. But perhaps what made them feel less like vampires and just mythical beings are the things Zachariah makes and the things Xavier can do. I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoilers, but those two and how reincarnation is used in the novel felt a bit at odds with the lore that I enjoy most.
The funny thing is, most of the time once I hit about half way (sometimes sooner) in reading a book, I know what I’m going to rate it. I never stop reading the book at that point, because I still hope to be surprised, but I didn’t know what I was going to give “Snow” until the very end. I kept hoping for more answers, more action, for things to start happening… and they don’t until much closer to the end. I enjoyed what Elliot provided towards the end, I just wish it had been more dispersed within the rest of the novel as well.
Still, there is a reason I avoided spoilers and why my review is a bit vaguer on the plot: I want you to read this book. Elliot’s writing is swoon worthy, and this is a unique vampire story in an age full of broody, lusty vampire teenagers. There are hints of romance, but that’s not the point of this book and I loved that! The point is for Neva to choose if she is going to be the savior they hope she is, not if she’s going to fall in love with so-and-so. I definitely want to read the next book to see where the story goes, and to get the answers left dangling come the end of the book, but given that I didn’t connect with Neva this time around, the lagging pace of the book, and the sheer amount of unanswered questions, I’m giving this book a 3.5 stars, mainly because I adored being transported to this new world through Elliot’s descriptions. While there is some violence, I didn’t find it scary or overly graphic so I would be comfortable with 15+ year-olds reading it, especially if they (or you) want a different kind of vampire story that has the potential to transport you on a truly lovely and thrilling ride. And thank you to the author for providing me a copy to review!
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