Author: R.C. Lewis
Life on the frozen planet of Thadan isn’t always easy, but it is familiar. For Essie, between mechanical jobs, stitching together circuitry, her unusual array of drones, and the occasional cage fight to bring in extra cash, Essie’s life seems pretty set. All this changes when the young pilot Dane crashes on her planet and the past life she’s tried so hard to forget catches up with her. Essie is about to be pulled into a war between King Matthais of the planet Windsong and the Candarans, the only people willing to stand up to his tyrannical rule. To help them, Essie will have to confront her past and become the leader her mother always hoped she’d become.
“Ignoring the lingering headache, I pulled myself to my feet and flattened my body against the wall by the door. Everything I knew from the cage from fighting someone bigger and stronger charged up in my head. The fire in my gut blazed into my limbs and made it hard to hold still, but I waited, unmoving.”
Yes, this is a fairy-tale retelling. Yes, this is a fairy-tale retelling with a science-fiction twist. No, this is not Marissa Meyer’s Cinder. It is unfortunate that a lot of readers have chosen to bypass this book because of its similarities to the popular Lunar Chronicles and even I was hesitant to pick it up. But it turns out R.C. Lewis’s Stitching Snow is compelling in its own right.
Our protagonist, Essie, is both physically and mentally strong, but she has this undercurrent of distrust which has kept her from forming real, meaningful relationships. Her drones, each named for their distinct personalities (Zippy, Dimwit, Cusser…etc) are the closest thing she has to friends or family, but are really just a fun crew of puppy-like R2-D2s (yes, please, can I have one?). A lot of her decisions are based on her fear of personal connections, but the memories of her mother challenge her to be more than just complacent in life. Even when Essie begins to understand her role, her fear doesn’t simply disappear.
I really liked Dane’s character too, who never assumed Essie was incapable of taking care of herself, but took a backseat to her for much of the story. He was never overbearing and even when he showed himself to be her superior in physical combat, didn’t try to make her feel inferior but believed she could be just as capable as him.
The romantic story is never at the forefront in Essie’s journey and even when it’s pretty clear how someone’s feelings have developed into something more than friendship, Lewis doesn’t forgets her protagonist’s wariness. Although Queen Olivia is presented as the Evil Queen to Essie’s Snow White, it’s hard to really see her as the villain when compared to another very evil and twisted character.