Book Review: Poison – Sarah Pinborough

Series: Tales from the Kingdoms – Book One.
Release Date: April 2013
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 202.
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon.


This little book is a retelling of Snow White and the seven dwarfs, but it’s not quite the story you know!

Pinborough’s book is a modern, grown up retelling of the story you already know. It features all the usual characters, the evil queen, the handsome prince and the seven dwarfs.

This version of the story is definitely not for kids, it features explicit scenes as well as some bad language, but the interesting thing is that it works incredibly well in the setting. When I started the book of I thought that perhaps it would be too jarring, the adult style in the fairy tale setting, but it blends really well and makes the characters more realistic, with more depth and motivations. I particularly enjoyed the retelling of the evil queen – or Queen Lilith as she’s known in the story. Pinborough invents a background for her, and it gives us an insight into her reasons for being so horrible. She is no longer that one-dimension character obsessed with her looks. She does not reveal all however, and these partial glimpses into the past of some of the character leave you wanting more and more. The same can be said about Snow White. Pinborough breathes new life into the well known character, making her more a woman of action, instead of the cuddly, animal loving figure we typically know her as.

The book is quite a short one, it’s just over 200 pages, and you can read it pretty quickly. One of the things I really enjoyed was that it could be read in near enough one sitting, it wasn’t overly complicated, just a really enjoyable story. There’s also a mention of Aladdin which I thought was incredibly clever – I won’t say too much about that because I don’t want to spoil the story for any potential readers!

The book cover is also beautiful, and the inside is graced by beautiful illustrations by Les Edwards on the chapter pages.I have also recently discovered that Sarah Pinborough has written more fairy tale retellings – known as “Tales from the Kingdom” the next two in the series featuring Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. I greatly look forward to reading these as Poison was a really enjoyable and fun read. The story has a very grim ending and it makes the story feel much darker than its Disney counterpart. It’s pegged as a ‘fun, sexy and dark’ retelling, and it’s exactly what it says on the tin. If you’re a fan of fairy tale retellings or the show Once Upon a Time, you’ll certainly love this one.

Looking for something similar? Try: Between Two Thorns or The Copper Promise. 

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One thought on “Book Review: Poison – Sarah Pinborough

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