A Maiden of Snakes
JM Books (2022)
Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views (02/2023)
I love fairytales, and I am Italian, so I jumped on the opportunity to read “A Maiden of Snakes” by Jane McGarry. I was not disappointed! The main character, Biancabella, was born through magical intervention from the town’s witch, as her mother, marchioness Adeleta Lamberico secretly sought her help to conceive a child. She did so knowing that such favor would have a price; but because of her desperation to produce a child, she decided to overlook those rumors. As a result, Biancabella was born with a magical serpent wrapped around her neck. The serpent disappeared from her neck right after birth, but not from her life, as she was Biancabella’s magical sister.
I found this Italian medieval tale captivating and entertaining. The narration transported me back in time, aided by the author’s almost musical descriptions. I loved McGarry’s writing style, as I was able to feel as much as visualize the setting through her mastery use of words fused with sensory information. I loved that the plot, although based on an old existing tale, was an independent storyline, and though it spun from the old and well-known medieval pressure of producing an heir for the powerful royal/husband, the story had nothing to do with royalty. It was more about the complicated love and bond of two sisters: One a human (Biancabella), the other a snake (Samaritana); and how together they became magical, but separated, they find adversity.
“A Maiden of Snakes” by Jane McGarry is a well-written fast read, perfect for young adults but also entertaining for adult readers. Its twists and turns will keep readers guessing what’s next. I definitely found it hard to put down and read it almost in one straight sitting. It’s in the category of an exciting ‘cozy fantasy/fairytale’ which even teens and pre-teens might enjoy, carrying messages about the strength of love and the importance of a sisters’ bond.
Overall, this is a great, entertaining and magical story which readers will find most enjoyable. I give “A Maiden of Snakes” by Jane McGarry five stars and look forward to reading more from this talented author!
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