The book DARK SHIMMER by Donna Jo Napoli is a dark twist on a classic fairy tale. Snow White and the Evil Queen take on new personalities in this exciting and riveting take on the classic fairy tale of our childhoods.
The plot centers around the life of a young girl in Renaissance Venetian society. Growing up, Dolce is convinced that she is a monster; she’s tormented by her neighbors and other citizens and only her mother sees her inner and outer beauty. Dolce’s only comfort is her fantasies of a better life and her only true talent: mirror making. Dolce is finally beginning to feel at peace with her life on Torcello, but it seems nothing Dolce loves can stay. Stunned by a tragic event on her home island, Dolce flees, unable to face the grief that lies behind. But in the wake of grief comes the realization that Dolce may not be as monstrous as she once thought.
This brilliant take on an old, familiar tale never ceases to intrigue and surprise with every chapter.
Life goes on for Dolce in a new place, society and family. Despite her new confidence, darkness looms at the edges of Dolce's life. She makes mirrors out of necessity now, but it can't bring her the solace it once did; Dolce is sick in mind and body. She needs constant reassurance to keep her alive. Can Dolce put her old life behind her, or will her vanity and self-consciousness break her relationships with her new family as well as her sanity?
Napoli does a fantastic job of masking the ending of this book. It keeps you guessing until the very last page. The reader goes back and forth from hating the main character to loving her to pitying her in a matter of pages. As the book continues, the reader begins to notice subtle hints suggesting a change from a simple and cheerful outlook to a dark and sinister one. Before the end of DARK SHIMMER, Napoli creates a web of complex characters and points of view. Even the minor characters have deep levels of characterization and development. The reader cannot help but become attached to each and every one! As the plot thickens, Napoli continues to peak the readers’ interest with twists and turns impossible to predict. This brilliant take on an old, familiar tale never ceases to intrigue and surprise with every chapter.
I would recommend DARK SHIMMER to the teen and late teen age group. Though adapted from a children's tale, this book creates a sinister atmosphere lined with madness and some graphic details.
Reviewed by Lauren H., Teen Board member on September 9, 2015