Blood Red Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick has the elements of a historical novel, a biography, a fairy tale, a spy suspense thriller and a love story. The narrative shifts from a dreamy opening fairy tale about a huge bear (the people of Russia), to a third person report of historical events to, finally, a first person account of a harrowing trip across Europe into and out of Russia during the revolution.
The hero is a real life British journalist and beloved author of children’s books (the Swallows and Amazons series), Arthur Ransome, who worked in Russia during World War I and during the revolution that followed. In his early years in Russia he collected and published folktales in Old Peter’s Russian Tales, the book that piqued Sedgwick’s interest in writing about Ransome. Ransome stayed on in Russia as a spy for the British, while becoming a member of Lenin’s and Trotsky’s inner circle. Needless to say, this was a dangerous position to be in. Ransome eventually escaped Russia, taking with him his future wife, Evgenia, who was once Trotsky’s secretary.
This Young Adult fiction book is a true life hair-raising adventure by an author who has previously won a Michael Printz Award for Midwinterblood and two Printz Honors for Revolver and Ghosts of Heaven.