Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Snowball: Chronicles of a Wererabbit. You can read my review of this novel [here].
Snow Bunny: Chronicles of a Wererabbit was written by M.Y. Zeman and first published in 2016. It’s the second novel in the Chronicles of a Wererabbit series and follows on directly from where Snowball: Chronicles of a Wererabbit (2015) left off, with Snow having just rescued Josh from the clutches of evil scientists. A third novel in the series, provisionally titled Snow Island: Chronicles of a Wererabbit, has been announced but at the time of writing no release date has been set.
Following his rescue, Josh the werewolf has been forced to join Snow’s little family. Although the serum has left his system, he still can’t shift back into his wolf form and now his only hope is for John to discover a cure. Although plagued with nightmares of his imprisonment, Josh quickly bonds with Snow and begins to learn more about the human world through his friendship with her.
However, their friendship is not as close as Snow would like. The wererabbit soon starts to develop feelings for her new friend and wants nothing more than to date him but John is always quick to thwart her plans. To make things even more difficult, John insists that they all move into a disused prison to ensure that they are safe from whoever is kidnapping werewolves.
Yet even with all of their safety measures, it’s not long before Snow and Josh encounter the criminals once again. When they manage to discover the location of all the missing werewolves, they have no choice but to gather all of their friends and mount a daring rescue. Being a hero isn’t easy but Snow knows that they have no choice, especially when they learn who is responsible for the kidnappings…
I was very pleased to find that Snow Bunny: Chronicles of a Wererabbit was a very strong sequel to Snowball but before I begin this review I’ll just start with a few words of warning. Firstly, I wouldn’t recommend reading this book if you haven’t first read Snowball. Although the book does rehash some of the backstory, I don’t think you’ll get full enjoyment out of it if you’re not familiar with the characters and setting.
Secondly, the novel is actually surprisingly violent in places for a middle grade story. There are some instances where people are attacked and killed by wild animals and also some rather disturbing descriptions of vivisection in the scene at the lab. While I never felt the story crosses the line into inappropriate for an older middle grader or young teen, I would advise parents to flick through this novel before giving it to anyone under the age of twelve.
The story was very much in the same vein as Snowball and so I can guarantee that if you loved Zeman’s first book, you’ll also adore this one. The plot this time is a little more linear. While Snowball felt more like an anthology of random vignettes, creating a patchwork quilt of Snow’s first fourteen years, Snow Bunny is set over a much shorter timeframe and is therefore more focused. The bigger picture is teased out over the first two thirds of the story, interspersing Snow’s daily adventures with Josh’s horrible nightmares and some brief flashbacks of John’s childhood. Through this, a story emerges about experimentation on supernatural creatures, the development of a deadly weapon and a vampire’s desire to be Queen.
The story is still massively original and, despite its slow start, did build to an exhilarating final act. I was especially glad to see that tiny aspects of Snow’s early adventures – such as the construction of the hovercraft – were really significant later on. For the last third I was on the edge of my seat as the thrill of the rescue mission just went from peak to peak. Zeman has a particular knack for writing gripping action sequences that really make use of Snow’s ability to rapidly change form.
It’s also clear from the notes in the back of the book that Zeman really knows her stuff. I don’t really know anything about keeping small mammals but Zeman cites her research and even offers tips about where to adopt rabbits from if you want to keep your own. This is something that I feel is often missing from shifter stories as people often struggle to realistically portray what it is like to be an animal. The balance between Snow as a human and Snow as a rabbit is always very clear in Zeman’s stories, which adds a strange tang of realism to an otherwise fantastical tale.
However, the story did still have the same issues with structure that I noted when I reviewed Snowball. The plot jumps are far less frequent this time around but the point of view does still randomly flip to third person whenever Zeman wishes to detail something that happens outside of Snow’s line of sight, which did become a little confusing over the fast-paced climax.
I also still found the prose to be a little clunky in places. Although it very easy to read, it often felt a little too over-reliant on pronouns and so fell into a formulaic structure of short sentences beginning with either a character name or the word “I”. Given that the story was written largely in first person this did stifle its natural flow as it didn’t emulate the normal speech patterns of a fourteen year old girl.
In terms of on-going plot, I was also left feeling slightly disappointed by how slow the series is moving. Snow Bunny was a very light novel, easy to read and tonnes of fun, but Victoria’s plans have still not been fully revealed. We don’t learn much about what the villains are up to than was already revealed in Snowball. For a light read for youths, I still think that this series is really great but it doesn’t seem to be offering a lot of depth for more discerning readers to sink their teeth into.
Yet it’s still the characters that really sell the story. I still adore the whole cast and could really read about them all day. As the protagonist, Snow’s personality still really shines through. She’s so endearing and realistically written. While her narrative voice didn’t always sound like a fourteen year old girl, she certainly behaved like one! I loved how the events of the plot really did affect her. If something bad happened, Snow struggled to shake it off. Her fears seemed genuine and were always believable hurdles for her to overcome. Her relationship with Josh was also incredibly sweet and I loved how it gradually developed over the course of the novel. The scene involving the Tale of R2D2 (and its later retelling) was particularly cute and really did bring a smile to my face.
But it’s still John and Edgar who really steal the show. The flashbacks of their early life together really help to both strengthen the world building and show that they really are made for each other. I also though that the development of John’s character is incredible. From the start of the series he’s gone from being a reluctant father to a devoted protector of Snow. I loved his passive aggressive attempts to keep her and Josh from dating – very fatherly of him!
All in all, I’m still really loving this series. While the story had some small issues in terms of structure, they didn’t detract from the original concept and fantastically rounded characters. I’m in this series for the long haul now and can’t wait to see what happens in Snow Island.
Snow Bunny: Chronicles of a Wererabbit can be purchased as a Paperback and eBook on Amazon.co.uk