In The Raven and the Reindeer, T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon) takes the familiar Hans Christian Andersen tale "The Snow Queen" and quite thoroughly makes it her own, while still managing to retain enough familiar elements to be very readily recognizable as a retelling of this modern fairy tale.
Gerta grew up directly across from Kay--their windows so close they could step across from one house into the other across a windowbox that bridged the small gap between. Gerta is quite certain that she's in love with Kay, and so it is only natural that when she witnesses Kay being spirited away one night by the Snow Queen in her sleigh drawn by flying snow-white otters, Gerta determines that she shall go to save him.
This really is Gerta's tale; the core of the story is Gerta's personal growth as she persists in her determination to rescue Kay from the Snow Queen. Along her way, she learns many lessons and meets many interesting characters--including the titular raven and reindeer. Without any spoilers, I can say that I thoroughly love this book. It is very clear that the author did her research with respect to the culture and the setting for this tale, and approaches both with respect. The language is positively steeped in fairy-tale feelings and elements even beyond those from the original "Snow Queen" story, as well. I highly recommend this book, especially to anyone who loves the imagery and feel of "The Snow Queen," but would be happy to see an updated version that's less Christian, more nuanced, and with a much more satisfactorily realistic portrayal and treatment of all the characters involved.
With only a small hint at a spoiler, I will also say: this book is very much queer friendly, and contains a lovely romance between two female characters.
This is one of those books that I devoured all in one sitting, and which I already look forward to more thoroughly savoring with another read.
You can find more details regarding the original H.C. Andersen tale, this novelized retelling, and T. Kingfisher in our post introducing this Enchanted Garden Book Club pick here.
Elizabeth Wilcox. Writer, Avid Role-Player, Amateur Mixologist. Survivor.