Author: Anna Ursu
Genre: MG Fairytale Retelling
Source: Purchased (Paperback)
Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. They had been best friends since they were six, spending hot Minneapolis summers and cold Minneapolis winters together, dreaming of Hogwarts and Oz, superheroes and baseball. Now that they were eleven, it was weird for a boy and a girl to be best friends. But they couldn’t help it – Hazel and Jack fit, in that way you only read about in books. And they didn’t fit anywhere else.
And then, one day, it was over. Jack just stopped talking to Hazel. And while her mom tried to tell her that this sometimes happens to boys and girls at this age, Hazel had read enough stories to know that it’s never that simple. And it turns out, she was right. Jack’s heart had been frozen, and he was taken into the woods by a woman dressed in white to live in a palace made of ice. Now, it’s up to Hazel to venture into the woods after him. Hazel finds, however, that these woods are nothing like what she’s read about, and the Jack that Hazel went in to save isn’t the same Jack that will emerge. Or even the same Hazel.
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” Breadcrumbs is a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.
This was one of those books that I really, really wanted to like. I had bought it under the impression that it was a retelling of Hansel and Gretel (I mean, the title just screams it, does it not?) but then as I got partway into it I realized it was a retelling of The Snow Queen, a story I don’t think I have ever read. I also have to say that I was completely in love from the cover since the first day I saw it. AND it had received plenty of awesome reviews and was certainly a well hyped-up book.
Well, the hype did not win me over. I wouldn’t say it was like pulling teeth to read this book. I mean, I enjoyed it and all, but it wasn’t my favourite retelling of a fairytale. I just couldn’t get into it as much as I wanted to. I liked the main characters well enough and the writing was definitely beautiful in parts, but it just couldn’t hold my attention. This might be because I’ve read lots of fairytelling retellings in the past and maybe this one just wasn’t up to par with the other ones (the last one I read was by Adam Gidwitz and you really can’t top that!). It lacked a certain excitement that I was craving.
Most disappointing to me was the ending. I won’t give it away, but really there’s not much I can get away. I mean, the book just ends. There’s not a big confrontation, no huge conflict, no excitement. It was kind of a boring ending. Again, though, I haven’t read the original fairytale and maybe I should, but it just didn’t do it for me. There were also issues that were glossed over when it came to Hazel or Jack’s life (meanwhile, what’s with every boy in a fairytale retelling being named Jack? Am I the only one seeing this?), like Hazel’s parents’ divorce, or Jack’s mother’s depression. It really just said that these things are happening, but there was no resolution to either of these things in the end. Even with Hazel’s issues, I never felt like anything was really resolved by the end of the story.
There are also a lot of references to other works, like Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Golden Compass. These were all fine but I felt like they kind of dated the book and made it seem like the author was trying to hard to fit right in with THOSE books. But for me, there was a lack of flow with the story. It didn’t really scream FANTASY or FAIRYTALE until halfway through the book and then it seemed to switch gears. I did really enjoy the story of growing up and fitting in and kind of wish it had stuck with that.
At any rate, lots of people LOVED this book, but I just wasn’t one of them. I’m hoping that I have some better luck with some of the other fairytale retellings on my shelf. Also, there was some beauty to Anna Ursu’s writing, so I do hope to try out something else by her in the future. If it’s another fairytale retelling, though, I’ll be sure to familiarize myself with that fairytale before doing so.