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Blood Red Snow White

Review

Blood Red Snow White

When writer Arthur Ransome leaves his unhappy marriage in England and moves to Russia to work as a journalist, he has little idea of the violent revolution about to erupt. Unwittingly, he finds himself at its center, tapped by the British to report back on the Bolsheviks even as he becomes dangerously, romantically entangled with Trotsky's personal secretary. Both sides seek to use Arthur to gather and relay information for their own purposes…and both grow to suspect him of being a double agent. Arthur wants only to elope far from conflict with his beloved, but her Russian ties make leaving the country nearly impossible. And the more Arthur resists becoming a pawn, the more entrenched in the game he seems to become.
 
"The different love affairs and constant threat of getting killed was, sadly, lackluster and entirely undramatic."
 
The beginning of BLOOD RED SNOW WHITE: A Novel by Marcus Sedgwick starts out the way you would expect from a cover and title such as this. The setting itself is magical, mystical cold with some real life elements that make you feel like you could be as deep in the snow as Sedgwick implies. The story itself is one that was very interesting. I had never heard of Arthur Ransome before and had to do a bit of reading on his life after this since this book is a fictionalized tale of his time in Russia throughout the revolution that brought Lenin to power. However, this book was probably one of the most difficult ones to get through simply because of stylistic changed in voice though out the story. The first part of the story is told in a fairy-tale like prose that does nothing more than cause confusion and took me out of the story completely. Then the narration switches to present tense in Part Two. Even this present tense point of view took me out of the story and felt awkward. Then there was yet another voice chance to past tense in Part Three. This was the only part of the whole book that I was able to really get into but by then it was much too late for me to enjoy the story. There was not much advancement in the plot in this section though which left me unentertained by the end. I expected more of a love story but didn’t really get any of that. Mainly, I was confused by who was a spy for whom. It kept changing in a way that did not do much for me or the plot. The different love affairs and constant threat of getting killed was, sadly, lackluster and entirely undramatic.
 
Overall, this book was very underwhelming for me. I would not recommend reading it simply due to the writing style chosen for this book. If you are interested in Arthur Ransome or Russian history perhaps you would enjoy this but you must be very open to new and different stylistic choices.
 

Reviewed by Amanda Melfi on November 15, 2016

Blood Red Snow White
by Marcus Sedgwick