Breadcrumbs [Audiobook] - WOW!

Breadcrumbs - Anne Ursu, Erin Mcguire, Kirby Heyborne

“A boy got a splinter in his eye, and his heart turned cold. Only two people noticed. One was a witch, and she took him for her own. The other was his best friend. And she went after him in ill-considered shoes, brave and completely unprepared.”


I wanted this book to never end, and I'd have sat in class with Hazel and traveled the frozen woods with her forever. I'm in love with this book.


Confession time: The Snow Queen is my favorite Anderson story and really the only one I read regularly. So I was sold on this story for that reason alone; however, it's a retelling, keep that in mind. And the first half of the book shows Hazel's mundane world. It's setup, real life, people she cares about and the ones she doesn't, and everything she's trying to escape and yet save. It might feel as if the book is not starting but I enjoyed seeing the world through Hazel's eyes. Her mind is a fertile and imaginative place and I loved seeing the potential magic in the mundane world.


Her friendship with Jack was beautifully done. Even when things are at their worst, her loyalty and love for him does not waver. I'll agree with another reviewer, they seem to complete each other - they are stronger together then separate and the author shows this very well. I've seen the amazing friendship that can come from that.


All the characters, even the ones inhabiting the woods, were so real and...human (most of them). Hazel and Jack of course stood out but two others were Ben, a boy she meets and who helps her, and the White Witch (More about that later!) The man and woman were also very interesting and were the cause of one of my longest breaks from the book as I digested it all. This segment was both familiar from the source material and also quite different and I found both sides of that interesting. The descriptions all the children give to them turned haunting as you heard it repeated again and again while learning of the results.


The White Witch was fascinating. My favorite moment with her was when she picked up Jack while he was sledding and as a joke comments, "Would you like some Turkish Delight?" So much description went into every moment with her...and that was, I felt, the one weakness. Here words alone rendered her as an other - inhuman - and people's reaction to her name built up the dread and sense of fear the author was going for. The constant descriptions of her actions connected with her words, in my opinion, almost worked against the ambiance that had been created.


I listened to the audiobook rather then reading the book first, something I've been more adventurous in doing lately. In this case, it worked out quite well. Kirby Heyborne took me a bit to get use to but he did a great job, capturing Hazel's thoughts so well.


And now for the ending. This is a LONG spoiler!



I love the ending of The Snow Queen. The fact that Gerda's love is powerful enough to not only aid her through her travels but save Kai has always been magical to me. I know we find this cliched and hackneyed now, but selfless love can move mountains or heal deep wounds. It's something we need to remember, the main reason I love the book. Hazel and Jack love each other; not sexually, the author does a good job, particularly now a days, in preserving the friendship aspect of it. But there is no question how they feel. And, as with Gerda, Hazel's strength comes from her love, her loyalty. When she loses everything else, even hope, this remains. It was awe inspiring.


And then it falls flat. Jack remembers after she returns the Chekhov's gun (aka autographed baseball - seriously, it came up so much I was about to lob it at one of them!) that lurked around the entire book. She manages to lead him away from the Snow Queen and out of the woods. But the slivers remain. There is no removal and the Queen's words haunt the rest of the book: even if you get him back, he won't be the same. Hazel learns lessons in the woods she applies to life, that is the main reason for the woods, but I feel the book missed the mark at the end.


“This is what happens on journeys—the things you find are not necessarily the things you had gone looking for.”


I get it, growing up is hard, you lose things along the way and you change. You can't come back and everything won't be as it was. And, after sitting on this review for awhile and mulling it over, I can even say Ursa managed this well. However, the beauty of the original and what the books comes close to and then moves in another direction is what, for me is the true magic of The Snow Queen: selfless love has great power and can even save someone from darkened vision and an icy heart.

(show spoiler)



Despite my deep issues with the ending, I found this book to be a powerful and moving experience to listen to. I plan to read it at some point but I highly recommend the audiobook.


“Once upon a time, there was a boy named Jack who got lost in the woods. His best friend went after him. Along the way, she had many adventures. She met woodsmen, witches, and wolves. She found her friend in the thrall of a queen who lived in a palace of ice and had a heart to match. She rescued him with the help of a magical object. And they returned home, together, and they lived on, somehow, ever after.

It went something like that, anyway.”