Author: Liz DeJesus
Genre: Young Adult
My Copy: Review Copy via Author
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis: For generations, the Frost family has run the Museum of Magical and Rare Artifacts, handing down guardianship from mother to daughter, always keeping their secrets to “family only.”
Gathered within museum’s walls is a collection dedicated to the Grimm fairy tales and to the rare items the family has acquired: Cinderella’s glass slipper, Snow White’s poisoned apple, the evil queen’s magic mirror, Sleeping Beauty’s enchanted spinning wheel…
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Frost wants none of it, dreaming instead of a career in art or photography or…well, anything except working in the family’s museum. She knows the items in the glass display cases are fakes because, of course, magic doesn’t really exist.
She’s about to find out how wrong she is.
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Frost can’t wait to graduate high school and move on with her life. She works at the fairy tale museum run by parents and is the only employee since her parents refuse to hire outside help. She tries to make the best out of the situation and grudgingly assists her mother when needed. One night she returns home to find her mother battling a witch. She watches in awe as her mother conjures up fire and sends a ball of light towards Lenore. Afterwards her mother tells Bianca the family secret: they are descendants of Snow White. Bianca accepts her heritage and begins to train with her mother on how to use her own magic. Everything seems to be going well until Lenore comes back and kidnaps Bianca’s mother. Suddenly her world is turned upside down and she’s left with the task of finding and rescuing her mother.
Liz DeJesus’ First Frost is an engaging read filled with humor and adventure. Bianca’s journey searching for her mother leads her to Everafter where she finds out that it really does exist. Her mother explained that the Brothers Grimm stepped into a fairy ring and it transported them to Everafter, but explains the whole “they lived happily ever after” is a typo and it actually should read, “and they lived happily in Everafter.” That’s a unique twist on the fairy tale world. You’ll notice some similarities to other versions, but she does change details and offers her own spin. For example in First Frost, the Prince finds Snow White, but doesn’t awaken her and instead finds a wizard to do it. The original Grimm tale has the Prince carrying Snow White’s coffin and he trips dislodging the piece of poisoned apple and she awakens.
We have several key secondary characters that make an appearance. Bianca’s best friend, Ming, is along for the ride when she is told what happened to Bianca’s mother. She even makes the journey to Everafter. In Everafter we have Prince Ferdinand, because no fairy tale is complete without one. I loved him! He wasn’t very smart and in many ways reminded me of Lancelot from the early medieval tales and how he’s depicted as not very bright. At Ferdinand’s side is his faithful servant Terrance who happens to be related to the Big Bad Wolf. He’s the brains behind Ferdinand’s activities and I have a feeling the poor prince would be dead if it wasn’t for him. A romance develops between Terrance and Bianca and it will be interesting to see where DeJesus goes with this. Although a part of me really wants Terrance to be the prince masquerading as a servant!
I really liked that DeJesus combined magic and spells and weaved them into her story. Most fairy tales have some form of magic, but it’s limited and only tends to be used by the villains. Here DeJesus makes Snow White into a witch and Lenore is a great, great, great, descendant of the Evil Queen’s assistant. Bianca questions why Lenore and her family are causing problems and I had the same question! Talk about loyalty! Never fear that question gets addressed and even Snow White makes an appearance.
I debated with the rating between a three and four and decided on a three. The reason has to do with the language and at times both Ming and Bianca sounded younger than they’re supposed to be. Even the conversations between Bianca with her mother sound a bit unnatural. Furthermore, during the intense scenes where a life was a stake, I didn’t quite feel the direness of the situation. Everything Bianca experiences tends to be wrapped up nicely and I wanted more intense feelings. I’m not sure if it’s because Bianca is still processing the truth about her family and hence DeJesus doesn’t give us that intensity.
“A quest and a spell to break? A mighty adventure indeed! The minstrels will sing songs about me.”
Overall, Liz DeJesus’ First Frost is a charming read and I enjoyed it. If you’re a fan of fairy tales and retellings you might be interested in reading this.