Saturday, March 18, 2017

Sedgwick, Marcus. Blood Red Snow White.

Sedgwick, Marcus.  Blood Red Snow White.  Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press 2016  296p  $17.99  ISBN 978-1-62672-547-8  Hardback  hs  Historical fiction  VG-BN

Marcus Sedgwick has been shortlisted for Britain’s Carnegie Medal six times, and has received two Printz Honor awards, for Revolver and Ghosts of Heaven. In 2013 he won the Printz Award for Midwinterblood. Savvy readers will appreciate the metaphor disguised as a fairy tale at the beginning of the book to describe the rise of the Bolsheviks against the Imperialists. This is not a novelization of a fairy tale; this is not a re-telling of Snow White and Rose Red. However, readers expecting a well-written historical novel will not be disappointed by Blood Red Snow White.

Blood Red Snow White focuses on writer Arthur Ransome (a real historical figure), who  leaves England to work in Russia as a journalist. He finds himself in St. Petersburg on the eve of the Russian Revolution, and is at the center of a clandestine tug-of-war as two countries want Ransome to work for them. The Bolsheviks want Arthur to send messages to England, and England wants Ransome to spy on the Russians.In time, Ransome comes to play an important role in the demise of Tsarist Russia, which in turn leads to the rise and fall of Trotsky and Lenin.

Sedgwick’s three-part plot jumps among three stories (“A Russian Fairy Tale”; “One Night in Moscow”; “A Fairy Tale Ending”) until these braid into one seamless tale. The first section is told in the style of a fairy tale.  The second section is told in the third-person voice. The last section is narrated by Ransome himself. Everything is historically accurate, and Sedgwick has obviously done his homework. While some may call this novel a fantasy, the action focuses on plots and counterplots, espionage and spies, love affairs and adventures. It is a memorable and engaging story with a superb sense of place.

Summary: Arthur Ransome leaves England to work as a journalist in Russia, where he finds himself at the center of a violent revolution that is about to unfold. “Let me tell you a fairy tale.  I used to tell stories like this all the time; it used to be so important. It even saved my life once. Now let me see, how do fairy tales begin?”

Russian Revolution-Fiction, Arthur Ransome-Fiction          -Hilary Welliver

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