The Crimson Crown

Del Rey: Ballantine. Aug. 2024. 544p. ISBN 9780593598368. $29.99. FANTASY
Snow White’s wicked stepmother finally tells how she became the greatest villain of them all. Once upon a time, there was a young girl named Ayleth, a witch who lived in the forest with her family and coven, hiding their powers from the White King and his Royal Huntsmen who seek to destroy all who practice witchcraft. Ayleth has a secret of her own: her powers have not manifested, and the loss of her sister Rhea overshadows everything in her life. A desperate quest leads Ayleth to the White City and into the palace of the White King himself, also reuniting her with Jacquetta, the witch who stole—and broke—her heart. Ayleth and Jacquetta must set aside their past as they attempt to discover the secrets of the White King, who seems to have dangerous powers of his own.
VERDICT Walter’s (Misrule) adoration of the villains in fairy tales once again comes to life in a queer backstory for the witch queen from “Snow White.” Her prose compels readers’ empathy as she builds the richly complex story of a young woman looking to save the one she loves most.
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