The Ice Princess's Fair Illusion (Fairytale Verses, #2)
All Marian wants is for society to accept that she's just not interested in... whatever society thinks she ought to be interested in. A princess with a reputation for insults and snide remarks, she's afraid to show anyone who she would be if people would let her. In a fit of temper at her refusal to marry, her father creates her worst nightmare: she is to be wed to the first beggar who arrives at the gates.Edel was visiting purely for diplomatic reasons, aiming to ensure her daughter inherits a strong and peaceful kingdom. She sees something in Marian that is achingly familiar and when Edel hears the king's proclamation, only one thing is on her mind: to protect Marian from the fate that had befallen Edel herself.Their lives threaded together by magic, Edel and Marian will have to find their way in the world in this queerplatonic, sapphic verse novel retelling of King Thrushbeard.

The Ice Princess's Fair Illusion (Fairytale Verses, #2) Details

TitleThe Ice Princess's Fair Illusion (Fairytale Verses, #2)
Author
ReleaseNov 6th, 2018
PublisherThe Kraken Collective
Rating
GenreFantasy, Glbt, Queer, Retellings, Lgbt, Fairy Tales

The Ice Princess's Fair Illusion (Fairytale Verses, #2) Review

  • Acqua
    January 1, 1970
    The Ice Princess's Fair Illusion is a retelling of Trushbeard following an asexual lesbian princess and an aroace queen. This novella follows a queerplatonic relationship, and diverse fairytale retellings are always something I'm looking for.This is a fantasy book about two people who experience aphobia getting together and supporting each other, about the way an aphobic society doesn't see relationships that aren't romantic or sexual as worthy and important as the ones that are.However, the way The Ice Princess's Fair Illusion is a retelling of Trushbeard following an asexual lesbian princess and an aroace queen. This novella follows a queerplatonic relationship, and diverse fairytale retellings are always something I'm looking for.This is a fantasy book about two people who experience aphobia getting together and supporting each other, about the way an aphobic society doesn't see relationships that aren't romantic or sexual as worthy and important as the ones that are.However, the way this story was written didn't work for me. I appreciated what it was doing, but I couldn't get into the format. This novella is told in verse and the characters are telling the story of how they met to each other, interrupting each other often. I think I would have liked this more if it had been told another way; this kind of storytelling adds distance between the reader and the events.While the distance made this book an easier read at times - there's a difference between reading a scene about forced kissing in a traditional format and reading it this way, because you know the characters are fine now - it also made me feel disconnected from everything. I liked reading about Edel and Marian, I liked their banter, and it's always great to read something in which a non-romantic queer relationship is centered, but I didn't feel strongly about these characters or their relationship.
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  • Book Gannet
    January 1, 1970
    This is an unusual little tale, retelling one of the less familiar fairy tales – King Thrushbeard – using a queerplatonic, sapphic relationship between a sex-repulsed asexual lesbian princess and an aroace queen. Which is a lot of labels, because this story is as much about labels and getting them out there as it is about the fairy tale. So if you happen to fall into any of those groups and long to see yourself in a story, or you want to know more about them and just how they work with relations This is an unusual little tale, retelling one of the less familiar fairy tales – King Thrushbeard – using a queerplatonic, sapphic relationship between a sex-repulsed asexual lesbian princess and an aroace queen. Which is a lot of labels, because this story is as much about labels and getting them out there as it is about the fairy tale. So if you happen to fall into any of those groups and long to see yourself in a story, or you want to know more about them and just how they work with relationships, this book has a lot to offer you.It is frequently very cute, with occasional flashes of anger, but the chosen format probably won’t appeal to everyone. It’s a verse novel, which I’ll admit made me wary at first, but it’s actually not too bad once you get used to it. It’s also told in an extended dialogue between Marian, the princess, and Edel, the queen, as they recap their lives and the events that lead to them making a life together. Although this does definitely up the cute factor, there were times when I wished for a different format because I wanted more. More detail, more emotion, more suspense as to how it all turns out. As it was, I could enjoy it, but I couldn’t ever quite lose myself inside it.Which is a huge shame, because there’s a lot of good here. Not just the use of labels, which are presented with excellent arguments for and against using them, but the way the story unfolds, especially in the first three sections. The fourth I felt was slightly lacking in detail, and the whole subplot about Edel being cast as a witch didn’t really seem to go anywhere. But the twist on King Thrushbeard was very nicely done, and it was great to see how it all turned out afterwards.Most of the time, I’ll admit, I didn’t like Marian very much. She was incredibly immature at times and a little too cutesy for me, except when talking about the Duke, then I just wanted to hug her. I liked Edel a lot more, but at the same time was baffled by her ability to simply walk away from the kingdom for so long. I know she was only Snow’s regent, but she still had major responsibilities. If I was Snow I wouldn’t be talking to her either after it all came out.So it’s not perfect, and probably won’t work for everyone, but if fairy tale retellings are your thing, and you like the sound of a queerplatonic relationship between an asexual lesbian, fashion-loving princess and a practical, aroace queen, then give it a try. You may just learn something.(ARC provided by the author.)
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  • Dannica Zulestin
    January 1, 1970
    This book has the most interesting format of any book I've read this year. The conceit is that the two MCs--Princess Marian and Queen Edel--are recording themselves telling the story of how they got together, using some unspecified magic device. So it's composed entirely of dialogue, and the dialogue itself is in verse format. It's nifty.I really liked the idea. Some ways it worked especially well were-It made it feel appropriate for Marian and Edel to occasionally go off on tangents that would This book has the most interesting format of any book I've read this year. The conceit is that the two MCs--Princess Marian and Queen Edel--are recording themselves telling the story of how they got together, using some unspecified magic device. So it's composed entirely of dialogue, and the dialogue itself is in verse format. It's nifty.I really liked the idea. Some ways it worked especially well were-It made it feel appropriate for Marian and Edel to occasionally go off on tangents that would have felt more awkward in normal, narrated prose. For example, both Marian and Edel discuss their asexuality and how others have reacted to it in great depth, even debating terms, whether terms are better than complex descriptors, etc. In a normal novel I think this might annoy me because such discussions often don't flow very well and feel like awkward inserts. But in this novel it works very well bc it basically feels like you're sitting in on a long, sometimes reminiscent, sometimes philosophical conversation.-You get a really good idea of Marian and Edel's personalities. Edel tends to be more reserved, both in her actions throughout the story and in the way she speaks. Marian, meanwhile, is less controlled, which certainly comes through in her narration--she's usually the one to initiate tangents, and she sometimes draaaaaws out words like thiiiiiis. Lols.-Going off that, you get a great idea of how Marian and Edel get along because of how they banter, their small disagreements, their endearments, just the way they relate to each other. It's like...even though they're telling the story of their relationship, you know from the beginning that their relationship is strong because of how they talk to each other.Yeah. It's a format that really works for this story. I do have two quibbles with it, though. For one, the free verse sometimes doesn't feel too different from prose, just with more line breaks--it would be nice to see a little more structure built into the verse format. I don't know if that would work with the dialogue, though, dialogue and verse being tricky to mesh in general. The other thing is that since the story is told as the musings of the two MCs after the fact they skip right over sections that I would have liked in more detail--like the MCs' early married life, for example, or (view spoiler)[how Edel returns to life as royalty after she is revealed to be the queen rather than a beggar (hide spoiler)]--because the MCs already know what happened and are fine with just summarizing.Anyway. Apart from the format.The actual story is about how Edel, a widowed queen, marries Marian in the guise of a beggar. It's a retelling of the King Thrushbeard fairy tale, which I know and love but which is quite problematic, probably the reason O'Connacht takes such gusto in messing with it. It really is a story that lends itself well to a queer, especially ace, main character, because the crux of it is that the MC (Marian in this case) insults people who want to marry her and rejects them. In this retelling the reason for that is that she simply doesn't want to get married, largely because she's sex-repulsed. She's still a little impulsive and spoiled, but with that explanation a lot of the characterization falls into place.Some content warnings: (view spoiler)[ A lot of acephobia/arophobia. Also there's a very vivid forced kiss, which was a tough read for me--I think the way it's written conveys a lot of panic, and obviously it's a bad situation. Lynn O'Connacht has her own list of warnings in the back, which also include mentions of self harm, PTSD, spousal death, parental death, and unsupportive parents. (hide spoiler)]I would recommend this book. But I would say that you might preview it on Amazon or wherever to see if you like the form first, because if you don't find it readable or you don't like verse novels, it would be kind of a tricky read. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • USOM
    January 1, 1970
    (Disclaimer: I received this free book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)Content Warnings: acephobia/acemisia, arophobia/aromisia (called out), sexual assault, PTSD, brief allusion to self-harm, unsupportive parents, parent/spouse death, illnessYou might have seen my review of Sea Foam and Silence and this is the same phenomenal author with another novella in verse! But this novella was truly lovely. I adored the representation of Marian, a homoromanti (Disclaimer: I received this free book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)Content Warnings: acephobia/acemisia, arophobia/aromisia (called out), sexual assault, PTSD, brief allusion to self-harm, unsupportive parents, parent/spouse death, illnessYou might have seen my review of Sea Foam and Silence and this is the same phenomenal author with another novella in verse! But this novella was truly lovely. I adored the representation of Marian, a homoromantic asexual sex-repulsed princess and Edel a panplatonic aromantic asexual queen. Yet they have a relationship built on love, friendship, and support. This is sapphic re-telling of King Thrushbeard, and although I haven't read the original, I'm obsessed with this re-telling. Let's talk about how much I loved the inclusiveness and diversity in this novella.full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...
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  • Solly
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this novella so much!I was a little taken aback by the format. I knew it was in verse, but didn't expect the two main characters to talk to each other, often interrupting each other to complete the story. It took me a little while to get used to it, but once I got comfortable with the format, this became a very good read. The two protagonist are a homoromantic asexual sex-repulsed princess (Marian) and a panplatonic aromantic asexual queen (Edel). Most of the words are used on-page, and I loved this novella so much!I was a little taken aback by the format. I knew it was in verse, but didn't expect the two main characters to talk to each other, often interrupting each other to complete the story. It took me a little while to get used to it, but once I got comfortable with the format, this became a very good read. The two protagonist are a homoromantic asexual sex-repulsed princess (Marian) and a panplatonic aromantic asexual queen (Edel). Most of the words are used on-page, and this was also one of the particularities of the book. A fairytale retelling of King Thrushbeard, sapphic, with aro and ace leads. And the terms are used on-page, even if it's somewhat historical. At first it was weird and then I was like "hell yeah why shouldn't we use the words" and I think it's an important topic of the book, too. The author also always uses "men, women and enbies" (which is <3).I related to both Marian and Edel, especially Edel, and I loved the two protagonists very, very much. There was some pretty sweet and domestic moments between the two women as they told the story of how they became partners. But I guess that what got me the most was definitely the awesome rep. As an aroace reader, it's rare to read a book with an aroace lead and this felt really, really good. Also, there are some queer minor characters, including a bi character and an aro/ace-spectrum character. CW: acephobia, arophobia, sexual assault, brief allusion to self-harm and suicide, both of which never actually happen, spousal & parental death, PTSD, unsupportive parents.I was given an eArc in exchange of an honest review.PS: I think this is my first review in English, which isn't my first language, sorry for any potentital grammar mistake :DD
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  • Eli
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars*Content Warnings pulled from the back of the book:• acephobia/acemisia• arophobia/aromisia• sexual assault• brief allusion to self-harm• PTSD• spousal death• parental death• unsupportive parentsAlthough it took me a while to get into the book because of the way it was written, I really liked this book and the way it was formatted. It was a validating f/f queerplatonic relationship between a character (Snow White’s stepmother) who is aroace and her lesbian sex-repulsed asexual wife.The 4.5 stars*Content Warnings pulled from the back of the book:• acephobia/acemisia• arophobia/aromisia• sexual assault• brief allusion to self-harm• PTSD• spousal death• parental death• unsupportive parentsAlthough it took me a while to get into the book because of the way it was written, I really liked this book and the way it was formatted. It was a validating f/f queerplatonic relationship between a character (Snow White’s stepmother) who is aroace and her lesbian sex-repulsed asexual wife.The book is written interesting in the fact that it’s written in prose and the two main characters are creating the story just by speaking to each other. They go into deep topics about the aromantic and asexual community including labels and to use them when it’s asked – or not to use them at all. In fact, one of Edel’s comments really hit me hard after I had believed I was not normal for so long.“I want to hear no more of people like yourself who needed words they never learned because no one believed they were needed.” Way to make me cry.Then there was mention about not using queer identities as a dramatic reveal. We are not a spoiler.Another deep topic this book explores is sexual assault. It was painful to read about how family members thought that she was broken and forced her into a marriage where she believed she would be raped and that it was her fault she was assaulted.This book also has side characters that are queer! Snow White is bisexual and her father is on the aromantic and asexual spectrum. Edel explains what queerplatonic relationships are, how they have no romance but can include sex if it’s desired.I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Xoe
    January 1, 1970
    Overall, I enjoyed The Ice Princess's Fair Illusion. It was written as a dialogue between the two characters, which took a bit of getting used to but worked well. I liked that the relationship between Marian and Edel was queerplatonic instead of romantic, and I liked that the characters were unapologetic in their orientations. However, that being said, there were a few things I wasn't as fond of. First, the book is theoretically a verse novel, but I found that the free verse style was basically Overall, I enjoyed The Ice Princess's Fair Illusion. It was written as a dialogue between the two characters, which took a bit of getting used to but worked well. I liked that the relationship between Marian and Edel was queerplatonic instead of romantic, and I liked that the characters were unapologetic in their orientations. However, that being said, there were a few things I wasn't as fond of. First, the book is theoretically a verse novel, but I found that the free verse style was basically prose, and I think it would have been a bit more readable if written as prose. However, that might partially be because I'm not particularly fond of verse novels in general. And second, there were some parts of the story that I think would have been better with more detail. For example, Edel seems to be a twist on the role of the wicked stepmother from Snow White, but there wasn't much to that subplot except a stepdaughter named Snow and a few throwaway references to Edel being called a witch, which were never expanded upon. I also wish there was more detail at the end of the story; it seemed a little abrupt to me. Overall, though, I did enjoy the story, and I liked Marian and Edel a lot.Disclaimer: I received a free ebook version of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Caroline Duvezin
    January 1, 1970
    I started this book knowing it was a fairytale retelling centered on a QPR between a princess and a queen and...that was about it. I didn't know it was a verse novel, and while this unusual format (especially as a recorded dialogue between the protagonists) may have impacted my immersion, I'm also very intrigued by it. Like in Walking on Water by Matthew Metzger, the fairytale politics were very hazy but in the same way, it wasn't the focus of the book which is firmly on the characters and their I started this book knowing it was a fairytale retelling centered on a QPR between a princess and a queen and...that was about it. I didn't know it was a verse novel, and while this unusual format (especially as a recorded dialogue between the protagonists) may have impacted my immersion, I'm also very intrigued by it. Like in Walking on Water by Matthew Metzger, the fairytale politics were very hazy but in the same way, it wasn't the focus of the book which is firmly on the characters and their journeys of discovery. Still, I would have liked to have more worldbuilding (but I see how the chosen format didn't lend itself to it). There's really good work done on storytelling and sharing and voice (even though some elements of Edel and Marian's banter got repetitive) and the whole bit about not using someone's sexual/romantic identity as a dramatic reveal is very astute and not something I encountered before. In short, this is very meta and tickles my academic brain, even though my reader heart was often not fully immersed. Regardless, it's a good #ownvoices book and definitely deserves a read.
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  • Rena
    January 1, 1970
    I received this arc from the author in exchange for an honest review.The book is a queerplatonic retelling of the fairytale King Trushbeard told in verse.It took me a bit to get into the story,because I'm not used to reading verse novels, but once I got used to it, it was a fun ride. A lot of the narration focuses on the labels the characters use for themselves, and how others react to them, and it was really interesting to read, even if a bit repetitive after a while. The twists on the original I received this arc from the author in exchange for an honest review.The book is a queerplatonic retelling of the fairytale King Trushbeard told in verse.It took me a bit to get into the story,because I'm not used to reading verse novels, but once I got used to it, it was a fun ride. A lot of the narration focuses on the labels the characters use for themselves, and how others react to them, and it was really interesting to read, even if a bit repetitive after a while. The twists on the original fairy tale were enjoyable, and I liked how the story got connected to another fairy tale. Overall it's an interesting take and feminist reclaiming of an old fairytale.A full review is going to come on my blog soon!
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  • Keith
    January 1, 1970
    (Based on an Advance Review Copy [ARC] provided by the author)I haven't given this a star rating because it would feel a little unfair; I didn't get along with the writing style, and probably wouldn't have read it if I had previewed it or noticed it described as being written in "verse". (It's written as a two-way conversation with the two characters' words on opposite sides of the page, with non-standard line breaks, as opposed to rhyming verse or the like.) To an extent, I'm glad I did read it (Based on an Advance Review Copy [ARC] provided by the author)I haven't given this a star rating because it would feel a little unfair; I didn't get along with the writing style, and probably wouldn't have read it if I had previewed it or noticed it described as being written in "verse". (It's written as a two-way conversation with the two characters' words on opposite sides of the page, with non-standard line breaks, as opposed to rhyming verse or the like.) To an extent, I'm glad I did read it, because it was interesting to try something different, but I didn't really enjoy it, due to the aforementioned style and other issues I had with it, which I'll detail below.However, on the positive side, the book is clearly written in a very heartfelt way, and it does do what it set out to do, exploring a traditional fairytale narrative not only with a female/female relationship but with characters who are asexual and/or aromantic. This was what attracted me to read it in the first place, and I thought it did explore the experience of being aromantic/asexual in a romance-obsessed world in a way which felt focused on and told through the characters rather than just being a thinly disguised tract. Unfortunately, I didn't think the theme and characters were meshed very well with the fairytale plot and setting. Problems included:(view spoiler)[-The use of 2018 terminology for gender and sexual identities (down to slang/abbreviations like "aro" and "enby") in a seemingly otherwise standard medieval/Renaissance European setting was a trifle jarring, as was the apparent acceptance of non-heterosexual relationships and non-binary-gendered people in mainstream society (even though arranged/political marriages still seem to be the norm among the aristocracy). I'm all for people writing fantasy societies that aren't simply medieval/Renaissance Europe, including societies where other kinds of relationships, identities etc. are accepted, but I think this works better with some degree of worldbuilding to integrate different elements together and/or explain where this society came from and how it functions, as opposed to it being "medieval Europe with this very major change that doesn't seem to have affected anything else".-The framing device of the conversation between the two main characters had me very confused in places, and had the effect of draining any sense of narrative tension. There are references to them speaking into some kind of recording device that uses discs, even though nothing else about the setting indicates that technology like phonographs exists yet, or that people use magical devices so casually. The conversation also repeatedly brings up important events in their lives or viewpoints which they hold, which they seem to be discussing for the first time, despite their relationship seeming to be well established by the time they're making the recording. (The ending clarifies this somewhat by indicating that not a lot of time has actually passed between the end of the story and the making of the recording.) Finally, the framing device makes it clear that the protagonists' relationship reaches a "happily ever after" stage, which meant (at least to me, knowing the original fairytale) that almost everything that happened was entirely predictable and lacking in tension. This may have been the intention, but it wasn't to my taste.-Marian (the younger of the two protagonists) came across as a very immature and childish character, to the point where I thought it undermined the portrayal of the central relationship.-Similarly, the most key part of the formation of the central relationship (the two coming to trust each other while living together in poverty) simply wasn't shown, because the narrative framing device doesn't show the reader much of the content of any of the conversations that took place in the past, and those in the key period are simply brushed past (while at the same time a lot of words are spent on relatively mundane details like pot-buying and painting, or clothes). (hide spoiler)]All in all, I felt this book was an experiment which sadly didn't work for me, despite obviously being quite personal to the author and exploring ideas well worth exploring in an honest way. I hope the author can continue to keep that authenticity and impassioned voice while improving some of the writing "nuts and bolts" in future works.
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  • Lynn O'Connacht
    January 1, 1970
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