For twelve-year-old Neve, it’s always been her and her older sister against the world. Their lives entwined just like sisters in a fairy tale. So, if Rose loves tennis, Neve will play it too—even if secretly she’d rather be home turning cardboard boxes into offbeat art projects. Not even being moved to the piney woods outside Etters, South Carolina, can change what they are to each other—until a mysterious fog swallows Rose before Neve’s eyes.
Naturally, the adults don’t believe that something supernatural is at play. So, with the help of Piper, a classmate with a tomato fixation; Sammy, a boy with memories of an otherworldly stranger; and a stray dog that seems to belong to the woods, Neve discovers that her sister has been taken by a swamp-dwelling witch with a terribly wicked plan. It will be up to Neve to save her sister. Otherwise, she’ll be separated from Rose . . . forever.
This is a modern take on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale Snow White and Rose Red. Yeah, I’ve never heard of it either. I looked it up on Google and found the story. It was confusing, to say the least.
There are a few similarities between the two stories:
- The sisters’ names are Rose and Snow (Neve means “snow”)
- The two sisters are very close
- A dwarf is featured
Other than these details, it’s pretty much its own story.
The story felt a bit muddled in the beginning, but everything came together in the end. Fair warning, some parts are a bit dark, but that’s to be expected from a fairy tale. Fairy tales are full of disturbing occurrences. For example, parents abandoning their children in the woods (Hansel and Gretel), people getting eaten by wolves (Red riding hood), and man-eating giants (Jack and the Beanstalk). And we tell these stories to children.
The detail that piqued my interest was Piper, the girl with a tomato fixation. She starts off as the weird girl who spouts out random facts about tomatoes (some I found interesting), but she is a much more compelling character.
I really enjoyed Neve’s character development. Rosa and Neve have a strong sisterly bond, but it’s clear from the start that Neve is too dependent on her sister. Neve always does what Rose wants to do and relies on her to make choices for her. Without Rose to guide her, Neve learns to make her own decisions and speak up for herself.
Along with the fantasy, the story includes a relatable issue: parents divorcing. The subject of divorce was a refreshing break from the overused ‘one parent died’ and ‘both parents died’ trope. I don’t know the statistics, but I’m pretty sure divorce is more common in real life than parent death. This quote from the story speaks volumes to me:
“You know it’s not actually your fault, right? Adults do weird and unfair things all the time and we can’t control what they do.”
This is a message that kids of divorce need to hear. Kids shouldn’t blame themselves for their parent’s divorce. It’s not on them.
I recommend this story to fans of Frozen and The Owl House.