Sunday, June 27, 2010

Review: Toads and Diamonds

Toads and Diamonds
By Heather Tomlinson
Publication date: March 30, 2010

My review:

When Diribani goes to the well to draw water, she helps a poor old woman not realizing that this woman is in fact the goddess Naghali. As a reward, she is given an unusual gift: when she speaks, flowers and jewels drop from her lips. This gift could save her family as they have been struggling since the death of Diribani's father. After hearing about this miracle, Diribani's stepmother sends her daughter Tana to the well also, hoping that she too would be blessed similarly. Instead, Tana is given another kind of gift: when she speaks, toads and snakes drop from her lips. While Diribani's gift is seen as a blessing which leads her to the court of a prince, Tana's gift is seen as a curse and she is driven out of her village. The goddess has given the girls these gifts for a purpose and now it is up to them to figure it out and save their people.

Toads and Diamonds is based on the French fairy tale, The Fairies by Charles Perrault. In this version, both girls are kind and the setting is a fictional historic India during the Mughal period. Diribani is beautiful and it is very apparent that both girls were treated equally by their family, Tana feels inferior to her stepsister. Yet it is Tana who has been providing for them since her stepfather died. I really liked her character and the strength she exhibits through all the trials she faces. Diribani on the other hand seems to have a charmed life in comparison. She is sent to live in the household of a prince and all her needs are taken care of. Although Diribani wasn't spoiled, I didn't like her as much as Tana. She did have problems of her own to deal with but she just seemed like a boring character compared to Tana. I also found her to be a little too naive at times. One thing I did like about her character is that she wanted to use her gift to help others.

Both girls have love interests which added a touch of romance to the story but it wasn't the main focus. Instead, the book focused on finding your purpose, social injustice, prejudice, and helping others. I usually enjoy fairy tale retellings and although I wasn't familiar with The Fairies, I did enjoy reading Toads and Diamonds. I like how different this story is from the original. In The Fairies, the girl who spoke frogs and snakes was bad and she was cast out of her home to die in the forest. Here, her gift has a purpose and not everyone viewed the snakes and toads as evil. If you like fairy tales retold and reading stories set in other cultures, you might enjoy Toads and Diamonds. Heather Tomlinson has written two prior YA novels, The Swan Maiden and Aurelie: A Fairy Tale and I definitely plan to read them.

Readalikes: Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis, The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry, Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George, Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George


  1. Definitely would like this book. Loved the review thanks.

  2. OMG
    This sounds SO good.
    I love the premise.
    Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention :)

  3. I've never heard of this, and I'm surprised! It sounds really cool, and very unique. Lovely review!

  4. I started reading this one, but I couldn't get into her writing style even though I did think it was good. I Looooove the cover!! Thanks for the review!

  5. I haven't really read a whole lot of reviews for Toads and Diamonds but find the cover enchanting. Books that deal with social injustice definitely intrigue me. Plus, I like the idea of the story! Fabulous review :-)

  6. It really has beautiful cover!

  7. I'm very intrigued by this book, both the plot and the cover! Thanks for your review, I think I'm gonna have to get a copy one of these days :)

  8. Great review! I've heard some good things about this book and since I love fairy tale retellings, I'll definitely try to check it out. It sounds like an unique take on the frog/bug girl side for sure; intriguing! :)


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