Writing an effective holiday story is never an easy task; there is always the risk of getting too schmaltzy, of lacking originality, and of offending readers. Maria Alexander’s Snowed easily avoids the first two and strategically straddles the line on the last. Snowed is probably too avant-garde to qualify as a future classic, but the book is well on its way to becoming a cult favorite.
Charity Jones has suffered from bullying for much of her sixteen years alive – for being bi-racial, for being a bigger girl, and for being a religious skeptic. The other students in her conservative California high school take pleasure in taunting and teasing her. When Charity’s social worker mother announces that the family is going to foster a teen runaway, Charity is convinced the boy’s presence will only add to her ridicule; but then she meets Aidan – his odd behavior, stunning looks, and casual acceptance stop her in her tracks and despite her best efforts, Charity is drawn to him.
However, shortly after Aidan’s arrival, one of students responsible for bullying Charity is found murdered and the town turns suspicious. Could Aidan have had something to do with the death? Or is it perhaps tied to Aidan’s fear of his father? Before she can proceed with any type of romantic relationship with Aidan, Charity needs answers to these questions and the magical world those answers reveal.
Maria Alexander sets Snowed during the height of the holiday season – from just before Thanksgiving through to the New Year. How this timing ties into the plot is best left for readers to discover on their own. Snowed is probably best described as a young-adult fantasy mystery, so anyone looking for a real-world solution to things will be sadly disappointed. But for those willing to suspend disbelief, Snowed is delightfully fun – and strongly steeped in the traditions of the holidays.
The tone of Snowed is spot-on for its target audience. Charity Jones is witty, irreverent, and independent – a realistically flawed role model. Pop culture references abound throughout the Snowed’s plot. Topics like Game of Thrones and Lady Gaga will resonate with readers. Maria Alexander does not pull any punches when it comes to language and sexual situations, but both ring authentic for the characters and their representation of youth today. The budding romance between Charity and Aidan is sexy as…well…let’s just leave it at sexy, so Snowed is certainly most appropriate for those in the upper-ranges of the Young Adult reading market.
It is unclear if Maria Alexander is starting a series here, but the ending of Snowed leaves plenty of room for further exploration of the themes and ideas which are the book’s cornerstone. I, for one, would be more than happy to visit with Charity and Aidan again in the future.
Disclaimer: A print copy of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the author. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the book.