THE RAVEN AND THE REINDEER
REPRESENTATION: FF Romance, Black LI
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: YA Fantasy, Retelling – The Snow Queen
When Gerta’s friend Kay is stolen away by the mysterious Snow Queen, it’s up to Gerta to find him. Her journey will take her through a dangerous land of snow and witchcraft, accompanied only by a bandit and a talking raven. Can she win her friend’s release, or will following her heart take her to unexpected places?
Somehow, I had got it into my head that The Raven and the Reindeer was a really short story: that it had something along the lines of 40-50 pages. It is still pretty short — 190 pages — but it was a nice surprise when I opened this book and found that it was a short novel. The Raven and the Reindeer is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, but one which centers Gerda not just at the heart of the quest, but of the narrative as a whole.
The Raven and the Reindeer really reminded me of East by Edith Pattou. Not just in that they’re both Nordic fantasies and feature both transformation and girls on a quest to find a loved one, but the feel of the book itself. Both have an almost episodic feeling to the various trials the protagonists encounter along the way and both have that almost old-fashioned writing style that reminds me so much of a bedtime or fireside story. I know East is a really beloved book, and if you enjoyed it I’d really recommend check out this one.
One of the things that Kingfisher brings in to this retelling is a new female character and a sapphic romance for Gerda. This is a nice change from the original story, not just because it adds diversity, but also because it give her the something of her own, whereas in the original book she goes off on this amazing quest purely to rescue a boy (who, in the narrative, never really seems deserving of her efforts). Over the course of this book you really see Gerda grow from an insecure girl, willing to take whatever scraps of affection she can, to a confident young woman, who makes friends with a variety of interesting new people, defends herself against dangers, and is willing to go through some pretty harrowing things to save Kay.
There were few dark moments (to really force Gerda out of her comfort zone) but The Raven and the Reindeer is a very sweet and very touching retelling of the Snow Queen, creating a nice contrast to you all the Elsa angles that have emerged since Frozen came out.