Time for the next Snow White post. You’d think I might be tired of Snow White by now, but I’m not. This collection of retellings is showing me that there’s so many different aspects tot the story and how widely varied settings can be.
Today I have a review of Overpowered by Kathryn McConaughy.
It’s Biblical fiction, set in Israel during the time of the Judges. But not quite. It’s got a hint of fantasy and magic in the setting and story. The historical feeling removes it far from what we know, and from any regular fairy-tale setting. Yet it doesn’t feel like usual Biblical fiction either. We don’t have Israelites; we have Yeshurnim. Other names are also not in the form we commonly know them. It is refreshing.
Overpowered tells the story of Taliyah bat Shammai, a girl running from the avenger of blood. She’s not the usual innocent Snow White. She’s not a princess or anyone of rank. She’s just a girl, running for her life. And she finds a band of outlaws. The story goes on from there.
It’s well written. Many funny characters. There’s Cedar the giant, Vine who talks too much, gruff Thorn, Fig who claims he’s a murderer but doesn’t look like it, Willow who is full of proverbs, and Yotam who invents bad proverbs. They’re not just funny though. They all have roles.
I like her the main character Taliyah, or Snow as she is called. She’s not annoying, and I think Kathryn does a good job of writing a girl disguised as a boy. There are various pitfalls and annoying tropes in doing that, but they are avoided. She stayed a woman,
The Snow White plot is interwoven with another, which I won’t say much about, but it deals with Abimelech the son of Gideon, or Abimalk bin Yerubba’la. It’s well done. Not too much focus on it, not distorting it to make it fit the story. It’s just a back drop.
The setting is detailed too. Kathryn’s studies of Hebrew and the Near East certainly come through. There are bits of their legends and mythology(which is where the story crosses to fantasy a tiny bit), and the places feel well flesh out. I can tell she put a lot of thought into what’s going on.
All up, I really enjoyed the book. It’s not quite making it onto my favourites list, but it’s the best I’ve read in its genre in the past year. If you like fairytales, stories set in Bible times, or things that are just a bit different, I recommend Overpowered. I’ll be looking out for more books from Kathryn McConaughy.
Kathryn McConaughy is a Christian and has studied biblical languages, linguistics, and ancient history.
Most recently, she has been working on the fifth book in a series of young adult fantasies set in the world of King Arthur.
She is the author of the ancient Near Eastern fairy tale “Guardian of Our Beauty” (in the anthology Five Magic Spindles), and the flash fiction story “A Bride-Price for Hinzuri” (in the May 2017 issue of Spark).
When she’s not writing stories, she enjoys gardening, reading, sword-fighting, and writing papers on obscure aspects of Semitic grammar. Kathryn lives in Maryland with her list of dissertation ideas and her large personal library. You can connect with her at her blog The Language Of Writing
Find out more about Overpowered, including some character spotlights from the links below.