Published by Roaring Brook Press on October 25th 2016
Genres: Historical, Thriller, Young Adult
Source: the publisher
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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.
Told as three linked novellas, part one captures the days of revolution but retells the story as Russian Fairy Tale, with typical humour and unashamed brutality. Part two is a spy story, set over the course of one evening, as Ransome faces up to his biggest challenge, and part three is a love story, full of tragedy and hope, as every good Russian love story should be.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I was definitely expecting some sort of fairy tale retelling when I picked this one up. Right on the back, is says “Equal parts thriller, romance and fairy tale”. The title makes it easy to be mislead as well. Regardless of how much they want to sell this one as a fairy tale, it isn’t. That doesn’t make it bad. In fact, I quite enjoyed it. I just don’t think it should be described as a fairy tale in equal parts when it is very much only historical fiction.
Arthur Ransome, the main character of the book was a real person. He was a children’s author who became a correspondent for UK newspapers in Russia and later, a spy. The vast majority of the details in this book are true, which I loved. The fiction came in where the details of what actually happened isn’t clear. The author also took some slight poetic license where Arthur Ransome could have been included in a meeting but probably wasn’t.
I really liked this book because it made it obvious how little knowledge I have about Russia. The book covers the time during the Bolshevik Revolution. All I know about this time period in Russia’s history comes from the children’s movie, Anastasia. It really opened my eyes to how much interesting history knowledge I’m lacking. I loved how the interesting history was intertwined with the story. It was the perfect balance of nonfiction and just enough fiction to keep it interesting.
About the Author
Marcus Sedgwick was born in Kent, England. Marcus is a British author and illustrator as well as a musician. He is the author of several books, including Witch Hill and The Book of Dead Days, both of which were nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award. The most recent of these nominations rekindled a fascination with Poe that has borne fruit here in (in The Restless Dead, 2007) the form of “The Heart of Another” – inspired by Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Of his story, Sedgwick says, “This was one of those stories that I thought might be a novel originally but actually was much better suited to the tight form of the short story. I had the initial idea some years ago but was just waiting for the right ingredient to come along. Poe’s story, as well as his own fascination with technique, provided that final piece of the puzzle.”
He used to play for two bands namely playing the drums for Garrett and as the guitarist in an ABBA tribute group. He has published novels such as Floodland (winner of the Branford Boase Award in 2001) and The Dark Horse (shortlisted for The Guardian Children’s Book Award 2002).