Book Review: As Long as We Live

Title: As Long as We Live: A Retelling of Snow White and Rose Red

Series: None [Released as part of the Arista’s Frosted Roses collection]

Year: 2021

Author: Cortney Manning

Synopsis: Three human sisters live in a Fae realm where every prince is blessed or cursed by a gift of magic, and royal rivalry threatens the future of the land.

Ivy Durran, the oldest sister, is a resilient young woman who clings to her sunny resolve even in the darkest situation. When a terrible blizzard strikes the land, she feels responsible for protecting her sisters: adventurous Rose and vivacious Poppy. However, the storm drives an unexpected visitor to their doorstep, one who could bring hope or danger with his arrival.

Meanwhile, Pierre, the newly crowned ruler of Concoria, strives to bring order to his frozen land and tranquility to his troubled brothers. Nevertheless, the deep magic of Concoria is not easy to tame. While Pierre would love nothing more than to escape into a simple life close to Ivy, the human lass he met years before, he instead shoulders his burdens and seeks healing for his kingdom and family.

Dark magic, frigid storms, and deadly predators must be overcome if Ivy and Pierre have any hope of saving their families and their homeland.

This retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red” is an epic romance with treachery, Fae, and family ties.

Review: Have I mentioned how much I love the fairytale of Snow White and Rose Red? And how underappreciated it is in the world of glittering retellings? I’m so happy that we’re finally seeing more people turn to some of the lesser-known fairytales. Granted, I’ll always love a good Cinderella story, but it’s about time Snow White and Rose Red got more love.

Ivy and her two sisters, Rose and Poppy, are humans living in a Fae world. But that’s exactly how they like it. Their mother works hard with her trading business, and they do what they can to gather whatever it is she might need while maintaining their family’s cottage and taking care of each other. Even though all three girls are fairly different, there isn’t anything they wouldn’t do for each other.

Upon one eventful trip into the woods to gather moonflowers, Ivy, Rose, and Poppy met a Fae boy with his white dove — the latter actually saving the lives of Ivy and her sisters. A quick friendship sparks, and Ivy agrees to be a pen pal to this boy after they separate ways. Thirteen years later, she’s still writing letters to him, but by now she’s almost completely lost her heart to him. Although he’s never given her his name, she calls him her Guardian Protector.

Pierre is the crown prince of Concoria, and he loves being Ivy’s Guardian Protector. Only, as the crown prince, he’s not exactly in a place where he can tell her who he really is. Nor how he really feels about her. No, he keeps pretty busy with his tasks — especially when his father dies and he ascends the throne.

Pierre’s two brothers, Alain and Isidore, have never seen eye to eye on anything. After their father passes away, the differences only become more obvious. Alain, the golden child, receives a blessed inheritance in his father’s will, while Isidore, the reclusive son with strong Fae magic, receives the Forgotten Land, a place of shadows and nightmares. From there, the problems are only beginning.

If I’m entirely honest, it took me a little bit to get into this book. I’ve seen other reviewers mention this after reading this book, and I have to agree with them. A lot of the beginning of the book reads very much as an information dump, some of it growing rather repetitive. Some of the information, I think , was unnecessary in the beginning and could have fit in better later on in the story. Some of those passages were hard to wade through, but it could have been easily fixed with a little more editing and polish. I think this may be the first large novel this author has published, so it’ll be exciting to see how her writing grows with time.

But that’s really the only negative thing I have to say about this book. I was expecting to like this book. It’s a Snow White and Rose Red retelling, after all. I just wasn’t anticipating to LOVE this book.

Ivy, Rose, and Poppy are fun and lovable heroines, and I love the great sister dynamic they have throughout the story. I also love that we’re getting a bit more than just the original two sisters from the original fairytale. This story just worked so well with three girls. I mean, I’m from a family of five sisters, so I love me a good sister story.

But I almost think Pierre, Alain, and Isidore were the stars of the show. The girls were very much the idyllic picture of sisterhood, working together, getting along, supporting one another. I did love that. But the brothers. SO MUCH TO UNPACK. I was originally afraid that they would be gender-swapped carbon copies of the girls that I was already falling in love with, but they were so much more than that. I loved that they all had different stories, different struggles, and different personalities. It’s actually rather difficult to write this review without too many spoilers, because I want to gush and give all the spoilers. *coughing and restraining myself* The brothers were obviously my favorite part of this book.

Once you get a good chunk into the book, the pace really picks up and it’s just hard to put the book down. The climax wasn’t the big, drawn-out climax I had been anticipating, but was an emotional capstone on all the character growth that had been happening throughout the book. No, I wasn’t crying reading the climax. YOU were crying reading the climax. *hides tissues* Again, I am mightily restraining myself from giving spoilers. All the thumbs up.

Oh, and can we talk about the likeness to the original fairytale?? The biggest change from the original is obviously the number of characters. We have three sisters and three brothers instead of the traditional two apiece, but I’m just sitting here applauding the bigger families. I loved how many references to the original the author managed to sneak into the book. Even in the beginning with the “white angel” saving the girls from falling over a cliff. There isn’t a central dwarf character, but we do see the nods to the sisters saving him the three times.

Advisory: We do need to talk about all the magic/special powers in this book — obviously, since I always bring up the magic. The world is clearly defined as a Fae world, complete with Fae characters and Fae magic. I’m not super well-versed in all things Fae, but they reminded me a lot of Tolkien’s elves, with their special abilities that human lacked. For example, Pierre can speak to animals and can usually get them to listen and obey him. Isidore can control light/shadows and illusions, meaning he is able to transform his likeness into something else. None of it bothered me, as it was all clearly set in a fantasy world with its own limits.

Additionally, the Forgotten Land plays a big part of the story. This is a place of shadows and forgotten people; those who happen to fall in are plagued by regrets and fears and typically never find their way out again. I didn’t fully understand how all the magic of this place worked, but I think it fit well for the setting of the book. The description of shadows grabbing at travelers might be a bit spooky to some readers — so I’ll point that out here.

Some light fantasy violence, but nothing too scary, honestly. Most of the “scary” stuff involves the Forgotten Land, but we do have a bit of characters fighting, getting turned into animals, and the like.

And lastly, we do need to bring up the romance, since this is claiming to be an epic romance. YES. It is an epic romance. I was not expecting to fall in love with these relationships as much as I did. Building up a friendship and relationship through letters for thirteen years makes for an incredible slow-burn romance between Pierre and Ivy, but IT IS WORTH IT. I loved getting to see them grow together and learning to support each other in a genuine, loving relationship. Even the secondary relationships were fantastic. I particularly wanted to see more from Poppy’s relationship, since it’s hinted at, but not really shown. *sighs* Perhaps another book? *hopeful grins at the author* For the advisory, however, I’ll say that there is some light physical contact leading to a kiss.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

*Please note that I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.*

*Please also note that this review was supposed to be written almost a year and a half ago, and I am sending my deepest apologies to the author for my tardiness. Sorry!*

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