Hans Christian Anderson: “The Snow Queen”

I took a break from Sherlock to read “The Snow Queen.” I had actually never heard of it until I started hearing about the Disney movie, Frozen. Only after starting it did I realize I’d just read a middle grade retelling of it, Breadcrumbs, by Annie Ursu. Since I am a preschool teacher and will soon be hearing all about the Disney version, I figured I should be familiar with the real version, and I’d heard it was really good.

Summary: Gerda and Kai were best friends until a shard from a magic mirror fell into Kai’s eye and went to his heart, which made him see the world in a more jaded and adult way (seeing the negative in everything). He abandons his friend and goes with the Snow Queen, whose kisses numb him and make him forget his friends and family. Gerda sets out to look for him and ends up on a magical adventure. She almost is adopted by a sorceress with a garden of flowers that tell strange tales, and then she is captured by robbers, and the best character in the book, the robber girl, who has a collection of animals she keeps to play with (like Elmira in Animaniacs) decides to help her and takes her to the queen’s castle on her reindeer with some stops at some magical old ladies’ houses. She finds Kai on a lake of ice and saves him. They go home.

As fairy tales go it was good. (Fairy tales generally are told with the stock hero representing all that’s good and pure, with a villain who is completely evil, who meets an appropriate gruesome end (though there are more tragic variations, of course), so the written versions I’ve read have never seemed that good to me, as stories go. They tend to just tell the story and leave all the details, such as character development.) This story actually had some character development, and it dealt with loss of innocence in a fairly innocent way. It still jumped around from strange event to strange event, as fairy tales do, but I did enjoy it.

Sherlock Holmes: The Valley of Fear (2:7)

Summary: In the conclusion of this tale (finally), McMurdo sets a trap for this detective they’re worried about and has all the most lethal members of the Scowrers lie in wait. But then he reveals that he is actually the detective they had been so worried about and that he knows all their secrets and they are all under arrest. They serve their time, and from then on McMurdo/Birdy Edwards has to go into hiding. Eventually he goes overseas to get away, but the Scowrers just hire Moriarty to help, and that has sealed his fate. After some time passes, Sherlock and Watson hear that he had fallen overboard around Cape Town and was lost at sea.

Sherlock Rating: I give the story as a whole just 2.5 magnifying glasses. I was disappointed that Moriarty, and Sherlock, for that matter, just played a marginal role. And I still don’t care for story tangents like the one about the freemasons, McMurdo, etc.

Mystery Story Convention: The twist ending. Though I was pretty sure McMurdo would turn out to be the guy that had faked his death to get away from “the bodymaster” and “the Valley of Fear,” and I was pretty sure he’d secretly prevented some murders, like warning the guy before he blew up the house, I didn’t guess that he was actually the detective, and I appreciate twist endings like that.

Sherlock Holmes: The Valley of Fear (2:5-6)

Summary: McMurdo’s girlfriend wants him to leave the valley with her, and he says they will within a year. He’s adapting well. Most like him, some hate him. They have to do favors for other “gang/freemason” clans, such as let two assassins stay with them. Then everything heats up for them when they hear the secret that Morris the detective is on their case. McMurdo seriously plans to escape now.

Mystery/Western Story Convention: The appearance of the good guy in town who will shake things up. I expect a duel at high noon soon.

Sherlock Holmes: The Valley of Fear (2:4)

Summary: A fellow lodge member who had also originated from out of town secretly warned McMurdo of the terrible nature of this lodge of Freemen. McMurdo told him he was weak but promised not to speak of their meeting to anyone, which is good, because the Bodymaster comes to question him soon after. McMurdo quickly satisfies his concerns and promises not to associate too much with the man. As the interview finishes up, the police come to arrest McMurdo for his part in the beating of that newspaper editor. They go to trial, but the case is quickly thrown out because the Bodymaster and fellow lodge members give them all alibis, and there is no real evidence against them.

Mystery/Western Story Conventions: (I skipped the Sherlock rating–I’ll just rate this thing as a whole when it’s done–spoiler alert: it won’t be a very high score) So this convention is the trial that is a farce–no one really expected anyone to be convicted. They know the system is corrupt, but the good guys are going through the motions to try to make a point.

Sherlock Holmes: The Valley of Fear (2:3)

Summary: McGinty begins hanging out with his lodge brothers and elevates to fame when a cop formerly from Chicago recognizes him and accuses him of murder. Then McGinty is initiated into the lodge and branded. There is an issue brought up that if they scare away all the small businesses, the big ones will buy everything up and won’t put up with their thuggery. That idea is struck down. Then McGinty joins a crew that goes off to punish an editor that said bad things about them.

Sherlock Rating: still N/A…it was fairly exciting, though.

Mystery Story/Western Convention: Thugs who have taken over a town–all the little guys fear them and succomb. Now we just need a cowboy in a mask to come for a showdown.