The Shadow of the Bear by Regina Doman is the first book out of six in the Fairytales Retold series. While I really enjoy all the books in this series The Shadow of the Bear is one of my favorites. This book is based off of the fairytale Snow White and Rose Red, the story of two sisters who encounter and befriend a bear in the forest who later reveals himself as an enchanted prince struggling to recover his treasure from a wicked dwarf and break the curse the dwarf has cast upon him. The premise of the story is the friendship between the two sisters and Doman did a wonderful job of staying true to the classic tale while at the same time incorporating her own interpretation and adapting the story to modern time.
1. No inappropriate content. This book is family friendly with no language, no explicit or mature content. I would not recommend this book for anyone thirteen years and younger simply because there is some violence and subject matter that might not be appropriate for younger ages.
2. The Shadow of the Bear is not only “clean” but it actually deals with a lot of relative teenage struggles in a very godly and realistic way. One of my favorite things about Doman’s writing is that she utilizes spirituality and religion without a cheesy evangelical punchline or cliché salvation story. Her writing never sounds preachy though her messages are typically deep and profound.
3. The Chesterton quotes. To be completely honest, Doman is the reason I am such a big fan of Chesterton. I love the way she uses Chesterton's and other poetry in her series.
4. The lack of magic. I do not have a problem with magic, fairies, etc. in fantasy novels. But I think Doman’s lack of magic or anything fantastical is very clever.
5. Rose Briar’s world. The first book sets the reader up for the rest of the series. Each story stands on its own, but the first book might be the most important because in it we are introduced to Rose’s conviction that “people are not what they seem”, that there is an underlying battle between light and darkness, and that while someone might appear to be a human being they are really a knight, a prince, a princess or a wicked dwarf in disguise...
6. The relationship between the sisters. I love the friendship between Blanche and Rose. I love the way the two sisters stick up for one another.
7. The heroes. At first glance Bear seems like the perfect guy but Doman does a good job of making her knights in shining armor as flawed, broken and sinful as the next human being. I’ll touch more on that in my review of Waking Rose.
8. Fish. Seriously. Even though he’s only in maybe four scenes in this book, he still manages to leave the incredible impression of being the cleverest, most hilarious, caring and cocky person ever.
1. The villains. While Doman’s protagonists are vibrant, realistic and complex characters her villains seem to fall flat—not all of them, but many of them. Their motives and pasts never seem to add up to the level of pure evil so many of them exhibit.
2. The Roman Catholicism. I am not a Roman Catholic and Doman is a very strong, conservative Roman Catholic. That being said, she is a genuine Christian and integrates her religion into her characters and stories a lot better than most evangelical authors.
Overall, I rate this book 4 out of 5 and recommend it to anyone looking for a fun, easy and inspiring read!