This was one really thought provoking work. In a really good way. And about a Snow White retelling set in East Asia, about the Queen who will go on to rule and take the birthright from Snow White.
It was rather interesting, seeing as how Xifeng is different from everyone else. Her entire upbringing makes her who she is, living in a man’s world makes her who she is. She knows that her beauty is all she has, and does everything to prevent it from being slightly affected. Obsessive, but who can blame her? She lives in a word where men makes the rules.
And she wants to rule.
And one thing I admire about her. She doesn’t let a hot guy stand in her way. Which happens to so many girls in this genre that it’s frustrating, and so refreshing to see when a girl has her head in the right place.
Not to mention even how her Guma handled her wasn’t any better. Although I liked how it was eventually reasoned by Xifeng, how it was eventually a way that it was a good food for thought. Such as the way abuse affects them, and especially Xifenh.
Not to mention, the world itself. Where women are objects, owned, discarded and forgotten at the whim of a man. A son was security, a daughter was just a useless burden. And some scenes made my heart wrench, and wanting to just throttle them. Even if Xifeng isn’t the most likeable, I understood why she did what she did. I understand all her frustrations, and the reason why she wants something more.
The main deal with the novel is Xifeng. Her thoughts, her eventual alliances. Not to mention, her determination to see herself Empress. Just as the cards decided.
If she sounds horrible, that is who she is meant to be. She is shaped by her surroundings, and a stronger woman will have fought against that in her own way without ever restoring to the things she did. But this is her story. Xifeng wants power, and she will do anything to get it. She doesn’t want to fade into obscurity, or become nameless and growing old.
She wants to fulfill her destiny. Which is all that drives her. Not love for someone but love for power.
The retelling doesn’t have a huge part, it is simply her rise to power. But the ending suggests the ending as we all know Snow White as it was.
The themes, was the deepest and most discussed. Such as mother’s love: should it be tender and allow the child to grow weak but sensitive, or harsh and allow them to be able to weather hardship. I like the touch with the Empress, which gave an added layer.
As well as Lady Sun, who was a woman who played the game, and could have been Xifeng if she was just a tad brighter and wiser. Not to mention Lady Meng, whom Xifeng used to aspire to become but eventually realise that she was simply cast aside, she was a fling to the Emperor.
All this come together to give a deep story, with complex characters that are always more than they seem. There are many many twists and reveals here, and characters aren’t whom they seem to be. But the heart of this is Xifeng, and she was the reason why I wanted to read this story. And she still is the star. So, of she isn’t the kind of heroine you want to read, don’t buy it. She is the one who carries this novel entirely.
Buying this novel was worth the money, absolutely worth the money. And I cannot wait for the sequel. The story was a retelling but so much more than it, and I wholeheartedly reconmend it it to those who want a story that want to think about. A story far more than it seems on the surface.
To end it off, this quote is simply too difficult to ever forget:
“Life is difficult when you’re normal a woman in this world,” the concubine murmured. “You’ve entered a game you can’t win. Men make the rules and we are left to be used by them or claw our way to whatever scraps they’ve left behind. Do you think that my father gave me to the Emperor because he loved me? Did he care when he tore me from my mother’s arms? He thrust me into this pit of scorpions to be stung and forgotten.”
Rating: 5 out of 5