Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, published in 1844, mostly follows the story of two children, Kay and Gerda, best friends and next door neighbors. The children are very close and seemingly do everything together. Meanwhile, an evil hobgoblin (the devil himself) has created a mirror that shows all good and beautiful things as ugly, while all evil/ugly things become uglier. Said mirror then breaks and sends shards of evil down to the earth where they take up residence in the hearts/eyes of the people. Kay happens to be one of those people who has a shard wedged in both his eye and heart. So not only does he see everything as ugly, but his heart has also now frozen over. He becomes distant from his best friend Gerda, wanders off and stumbles upon the Snow Queen. If you haven’t read The Snow Queen before, picture C.S. Lewis’ White Witch, very similar imagery here, I would be willing to guess Lewis was inspired by Andersen’s Queen.
Anyhow, the Snow Queen sort of seduces Kay to come along with her and then kisses him so he is numbed and forgets his past, his friend Gerda and his family. Gerda is naturally devastated by the disappearance of Kay and becomes determined to find him. The remainder of the tale is of Gerda’s journey through the land to find her friend. She crosses paths with many strange and scary people, until she eventually finds her Kay, she breaks whatever spell type thing Kay is under, and they make their way back home.
This is the second of new editions of Han Christian Andersen books, illustrated by artist Sanna Annukka that I’ve read recently. Previously, I read and reviews The Fir Tree. The style of her artwork is obviously very similar for both, and I find it quite pleasant. Though, to be honest, I was a little more taken with The Fir Tree. I still really like this edition of The Snow Queen, mainly because of Annukka’s illustrations and style.