In Germany in the 1200′s, much of life revolved around the church. However, pre Martin Luther, many people in small towns still rely exclusively on sometimes corrupt officials to interpret the bible for them. When Adelaide’s town suffers a plague, the church abandons the people. Although tithes continue to increase, few priests are brave enough to provide the funeral services they claim are necessary for a happy afterlife. After a bribable but cowardly priest disrespects her mother’s funeral, Adelaide is determined to bring down the corrupt priests, despite having to work within the many rules restricting women’s rights in the middle ages.
Surprisingly, the fairy tale aspect of this story was my least favorite part. Although Adelaide’s nickname is Snow White, the resemblance between her story and the fairy tale is very thin. That wouldn’t have bothered me too much if the author hadn’t also tried to bring in a bunch of other fairy tales. Most of these other stories are included by having characters relate them. They in no way connect to the plot. They’re just randomly related by characters as fables or as their past experiences. As a result, the very good historical fiction plot drags a lot more than it needed to. The inclusion of many unrelated dreams and memories slows the plot down as well.
As historical fiction though, this story had much potential. I was truly impressed that the author managed to have her heroine act within the restrictions faced by women in the middle ages. Without doing anything unbelievable, she manages to be a strong heroine, taking control of her own life. She does so by either cleverly acting within the boundaries she faces or by sneaking around them. I was also very impressed by the historically accurate details, such as the fact that most families in the middle ages almost exclusively drank ale or watered down wine. I think if the author hadn’t tried to try this into the recent fairy tale craze, it could have been a very good book. I’m hoping the next book in this series will capitalize on that potential and would also be very excited to read any historical fiction the author writes in the future.This review first published in Doing Dewey.