Toads and Diamonds – review

Toads and Diamonds
by Heather Tomlinson
Henry Holt and Co., 2010
Reviewed by Valentina Cano

I couldn’t put this book down. My fingers turned page after page as if enchanted by the same goddess that intervenes in the two heroines’ lives.

This book is a retelling of the fairy tale about two sisters who get singled out by a powerful being who grants one the blessing of speaking flowers and diamonds whenever she utters a word, while the other sister must deal with toads and snakes punctuating each sentence. The retelling takes place in a small village which the author describes in lush detail. The two sisters start off a bit one-dimensional, but, as the story progresses, they acquire edges to match Diribani’s many jewels.

Something else that truly drew me in was the mention of snakes every few pages. I am an avid snake lover, so to have an author describe them as sympathetically as Tomlinson does, made me very happy indeed. I love the twists to the story that she adds (which I will not reveal), the little tweaks to the fairytale that make the possibility of speaking toads and diamonds not so far-fetched.

The aura of magic is woven into every line in this novel, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has ever wondered “what if’¦?”