Seven short stories comprise a beautifully simple struggle of good and evil, as experienced by two friends, Gerda and Kai. One of Anderson’s most highly acclaimed stories, this audiobook edition is read by Audible’s Narrator of the Year — Julia Whelan.
On a normal summer day, a tiny shard of an ancient evil magic mirror gets into Kai’s heart, and he is only able to see ugliness in anything pure and beautiful. As Kai falls astray, he is led away by the wicked Snow Queen into the north. Although the rest of the village believes him dead, Gerda undertakes an epic journey to rescue him. Her various adventures are sweet, and only occasionally weird, at least compared to other fairy tales of the same era.
As a modern secularist, the overt Christian references, songs about infant Jesus, reciting of the Lord’s Prayer, and final passages of the Bible feel dated. On the other hand, the fact that the little girl is the one doing the rescuing raises my estimation.
Recommended for fans interested in some of the inspiration for The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and apparently the new Disney Frozen movie. If you’re not used to the structure of classic fairy tales, be warned, they are different from the fairy tales we know today.
“Then little Gerda said the Lord’s Prayer; the cold was so intense that she could see her own breath; it came out of her mouth like smoke. Her breath became thicker and thicker, and took the form of little angels who grew larger and larger as soon as they touched the ground. All had helmets on their heads, and lances and shields in their hands; their numbers increased, and when Gerda had finished her prayer a whole legion stood around her. They trust their lances against the horrible snow-flakes, so that the latter flew into a hundred pieces; and little Gerda went forward safely and cheerfully. The angels stroked her hands and feet, so that she felt the cold less, and she hastened on to the Snow Queen’s castle.”