As Red As Blood

tr. from Finnish by Owen Witesman. 227p. (The Snow White Trilogy: Bk. 1). Amazon/Skyscape. Aug. 2014. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9781477847718.
Gr 9 Up—Lumikki Anderson has moved away from home to attend a prestigious art school. She refuses to be typecast into any crowd, so she goes through life alone. One day she walks into the darkroom to find money soaked in blood and she sets out to find out where the it came from. A compelling start, a strong female character, the rich background setting of Finland, and a hint of a Snow White retelling are highlights of this work. While the pace is quick, there is not enough to propel readers into the story and keep them hooked. The ending is abrupt and might confuse readers. Those looking for a psychological thriller are better steered to Kiersten White's Mind Games (HarperTeen, 2013), or for fairy-tale retellings look towards Alex Flinn's or Robin McKinley's books.—Stephanie Charlefour, Wixom Public Library, MI
Translated from Finnish, As Red as Blood brings the grit and intensity of Nordic crime thrillers to the American YA audience. From the opening passage—an excerpt from the original “Snow White” by the Brothers Grimm—readers know they’re in for a dark and twisty ride. Like her namesake, Lumikki (Finnish for “Snow White”) lives in a world that pulses with constant, primal danger. Lumikki is a fierce, one-of-a-kind protagonist. She moves through the world like a self-taught ninja, able to change her gait to evade recognition and identify classmates based solely on their perfumes and colognes. Her skill set gives her an enviable coolness, but also raises intriguing questions about her past. In atmospheric prose, Salla Simukka captures the claustrophobic darkness and inhuman chill of Finland’s winter: “The moon illuminated the snow banks, the playground swings and jungle gym, and the roofs of the buildings, wrapping them all in a silvery skin. The shadows stood in place like figures painted black on the snow.” As the mystery of the blood-stained money deepens, Lumikki teams up with three popular classmates and ventures far outside her comfort zone. Part of the novel’s pleasure comes from watching her adapt and grow—setting in motion an emotional trajectory that will leave readers eager for the next book in the trilogy.

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