Title: Blood Red, Snow White
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Edition: Paperback, 304 pages
Publication Details: July 6th 2007 by Orion Children’s Books
Genre(s): YA; Historical Fiction; Fairy-Tales
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from Dora, thanks Dora!
It is 1917, and the world is tearing itself to pieces in a dreadful war, but far to the east of the trenches, another battle is breaking out – the Russian Revolution has just begun…
Blood Red, Snow White captures the mood of this huge moment in history through the adventure of one man who was in the middle of it all; Arthur Ransome, a young British journalist who had first run away to Russia to collect fairy tales.
Only Marcus Sedgwick could successfully write a spy-thriller-cum-fairy-tale-cum-love story written in the Russian Revolution. I mean seriously, I don’t know how he does it.
It’s no secret that I love Sedgwick. I’m currently trying to work my way through his books that I’ve missed and Blood Red, Snow White was at the top of my agenda.
The book is told in three parts, all of which are written beautifully yet different in styles. The first, is written as a fairy-tale and depicts the early days of the revolution, using a great bear as a metaphor for Russia.
The second, is based on the real life of Arthur Ransome, a writer who went to Russia to learn more about Russian fairy-tales but who ended up working as a journalist and getting unwittingly involved in the surrounding war, and seen as a potential spy. Here, the lyrical fairy-tale style of writing gives way to a more suspenseful spy-thriller.
In the final part, Ransome falls in love with Evgenia, Trotsky’s secretary, which presents all kinds of problems, not to mention his estranged wife and daughter at home. This part of the book raises more questions as to where Ransome’s allegiances lie. Should he choose the woman he loves, and turn his back on his own country? Or should he use his position to try and keep the peace?
I’m so glad I loved this book, because I was pretty dubious about how a book could be all of these things. But it is, and the way Sedgwick adapts his writing to the different parts is what makes it a success. I’m also glad because I don’t always find historical fiction that exciting, but mix in a fairy-tale and bam! So good!
I thought Blood Red, Snow White was such a clever book; using a relatively unknown historical figure who wrote fairy-tales, and turning his life into a fairy-tale itself is a genius idea, and Marcus Sedgwick pulls it off so well.