by R.C. Lewis
* * * * Stars (Great!)
Princess Snow (aka “Essie”) escaped to Thanda 8 years ago when her stepmother, Olivia, made an attempt on her life. Since then, she’s become adept at “stitching” together codes to modify the programming of the mining droids at settlement 42, and values the mental and physical challenges of her work (she makes extra money participating in the fighting circuit). When Dane crash lands on Thanda, Essie’s conscience tells her to help him repair his ship – especially after she learns that her family is responsible for his father’s imprisonment (the King used her “kidnapping” as an excuse to make a move against political insurgents). Dane figures out who she really is, however, and Essie finds herself kidnapped again – to be traded for the prisoners. Unwilling to be anyone’s pawn, Essie sabotages Dane’s ship and comes up with a better scheme – to overthrow her corrupt father and become queen herself. It’s not a role she particularly wants, but it is what she feels would be best for her people (especially those who have suffered under her father’s rule). In order to gain the support of the populace, however, she must find proof that her father manufactured an imaginary war against the Exiles – with his troops fighting on both sides. She must also hide her true feelings toward her father and his queen, and somehow avoid Olivia’s assassination attempts. Although Essie is not completely alone – Dane is posing as her loyal guard and the Exiles are waiting for their word to act on their coup – it is a scheme most daring and desperate and her chances of succeeding are slim.
An excellent retelling of the Snow White story set in the future on worlds far, far away. Essie is a strong, determined heroine who doggedly overcomes the obstacles in her path. And while her experience of love’s first kiss is wonderful and tantalizing, it’s ultimately her tinkering skills and brilliant mind that save the day – not the prince.