Snow White, Rose Red
In a tiny Welsh estate, a duke and duchess lived happily, lacking only a child -- or, more importantly, a son and heir to the estate. Childbirth ultimately proved fatal for the young duchess. After she died, the duke was dismayed to discover that he was not only a widower, but also father to a tiny baby girl. He vowed to begin afresh with a new wife, abandoning his daughter in search of elusive contentment.
Independent -- virtually ignored -- and finding only little animals and a lonely servant boy as her companions, Jessica is pale, lonely and headstrong...and quick to learn that she has an enemy in her stepmother. "Snow," as she comes to be known, flees the estate to London and finds herself embraced by a band of urban outcasts. But her stepmother isn't finished with her, and if Jessica doesn't take control of her destiny, the wicked witch will certainly harness her youth -- and threaten her very life....
Lynn's first novel is a rather meandering story inspired by Snow White. When a Welsh duke loses his wife in childbirth, he takes little interest in his daughter, Jessica, who spends her days happily helping the cook or playing with the servants' children. Enter the evil stepmother ("The crowd parted for just a moment, and in the middle was the most beautiful, tall, and stately woman Jessica had ever seen, as regal and pale as an ice queen"). The new duchess agrees to be patron to Alan, a young fiddler, in return for his services, which include taking the place of the talking mirror. He holds the mirror and responds to her query about who is fairest, and an enchanted necklace she gives him ensures the desired answer. Here things grow a bit muddled: the necklace also supposedly prevents him from discussing with others his conversations with the duchess. Yet Alan tells Jessica about the exotic herbs he gathers for the woman, and is able to write about her odd requests. The narrative shifts among various perspectives, includes intermittent "interludes," plus letters from Alan to his family, and a book of hours, which further distance readers from the action. Other strange developments: Jessica flees to London, where "the Lonely Ones" replace the Seven Dwarves; the half-animal creatures live as pickpockets in a basement "hideout." Snow's awakening from her deep sleep is decidedly unromantic: to revive her, one of the Lonely Ones places on her lips a "corroded copper wire" that is attached to a magical machine. Ages 14-up.