Danielle Page, the author of Dorothy Must Die, has turned her creative eye to Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Snow Queen,” for her forthcoming YA series — beginning with Stealing Snow, out this September. The book’s official description is below, and EW is proud to reveal both the cover and an exclusive excerpt from Stealing Snow, following the description.
EXCERPT FROM STEALING SNOW by DANIELLE PAIGE
The door to my room opened in the middle of the night, pulling me out of a deep sleep. At first I thought it was Vern doing spot checks. It wasn’t. Even through the cloudy, drug-induced haze, I could see the boy standing by my bed. He had light-brown hair that fell partly over his eyes and dusted his shoulders, curling slightly at the edges. His features were mostly soft: light eyebrows, small nose, full lips. But I could see he had a sharp jawline as his face jutted out into a moonbeam that had fallen like a spotlight. His eyes glowed a silvery grey in the near dark.
“You’re awake,” he said.
I noticed then he was wearing an orderly’s white coat that looked a size too big for him. We made eye contact.
“It’s really you.”
Though I felt my heartbeat pick up, my body still felt heavy and sluggish. I didn’t move. There were a million things wrong with the fact that someone other than Vern was in my room at night. First and foremost, he was not an adult; he was a boy. He looked near my age, give or take a few months. Plus, White Coat night checks were strictly matched by gender to cut down on the chance for impropriety. Some inmates didn’t have boundaries in that department.
Some White Coats didn’t either.
I watched the boy take a step closer. The hairs on my arms stood up, and everything in my body told me to be on guard. There was something about him, something more about him that demanded attention—period. He looked like he had stepped out of The End of Almost. How was it possible that someone who looked like this was in my room? This boy was almost aerodynamic, like a shiny sports car. Even through that oversize white coat, I could tell that there was no amount of flesh or muscle misused. He was just as thin as Bale, who had grown from the skeleton he was as a child into something else entirely—but Bale’s lines seemed paler because he was locked in his room most of the time.
I looked down and caught a peek of the boy’s shoes. They were shiny and black, the kind you wear for an interview or to a party or a wedding—not to a crazy girl’s room in the middle of the night.
I finally pushed myself up in bed.
“I didn’t mean to scare you,” he said in a whisper. “When I got a signal that magic was being used here, I had no idea it would lead me to you of all people.”
Magic? Had he just said magic?
His hair fell over one of his eyes as he leaned into my personal space.
Most people at Whittaker—if they knew anything—knew not to get that close to me after the Hannibal incident with Vern.
But the Sleepy meds had made my wits slow, and instead of biting the boy, I closed my eyes in a drawn-out blink.
“There you are. I see you under all those drugs. Don’t you want to come out and play, Snow?”
Who was this guy? I stared off toward the wall and refocused, trying to shake off the drugs.
“Fine, just listen. I’ll do all the talking.”
“The pills that Dr. Harris is giving you aren’t helping you. They’re hiding you from who you really are and what you’re meant to be. They’re hiding you from your destiny. Stop taking them. Start feeling everything. And when you are clean, come to me. I’ll be waiting on the other side of the Tree.” He stood up straight and crossed his arms. The room was still cloudy around him.
This guy I’ve never met wants me to leave and go where?
Bale used to talk about running away, and sometimes I would indulge the idea. But the truth was, deep down I was always worried that I would end up face-first in a mirror again. And Bale would burn down whatever house we were in. Now I regret never trying, for him. For us. If I were going to escape, it would be with Bale. Not for this stranger.
My lips and voice finally decided to work. “I could yell right now and the White Coats would be here in sixty seconds,” I said, thinking about the panic button behind my bed. There’s one in every patient’s room. I had never pushed it for a real emergency. I’d only used it once as a joke, to ask for room service when Dr. Harris had briefly assigned me another orderly. Vern was back in a week.
The boy was undaunted by my challenge. He did not move a muscle.
“You could have called for help, but you haven’t. Besides, I am the help.”
“Who are you?” I asked.
“Who you are is what matters, Princess.”
I had been called a lot of names at Whittaker. “Princess” was never one of them.
When he saw he had my full attention, a smile spread across his face. Then he bent down, closer. “You need to leave this place, Princess. It’s breaking your spirit. Leave and never look back. The gate on the north corner will be open. I’ll make sure of it. Head north until you see the Tree.”
“The Tree?” I asked. I thought of the tree from my dreams. This was too coincidental—it had to be another dream.
“You’ll know it when you see it. I promise. When you get to the other side of the Tree, I’ll be waiting. And they will kneel for you.”
“What are you talking about? And why do you keep calling me Princess? I am no one’s princess.”
“You really don’t know, do you?” he said solemnly. “They’ve dulled your magic and your wits.”
“What the hell?” I snapped. Sleepy’s effects were starting to wane, and this guy’s riddles were starting to piss me off. He clearly was a new patient off his meds.
“Just remember the Tree . . .”
I started to sit up further, ready to show him just what kind of princess I really was. Then the boy abruptly turned around and walked toward the plastic mirror on my wall. And he did something that stopped me cold.
He stepped right through it.
I squeezed my eyes shut and pressed my palms into them. This was a dream. Yes, it would be my weirdest one yet, but still. A dream. Had to be.
I opened my eyes again. They adjusted to the dark quickly this time. The room looked normal. No strange boy to be seen. But when I stared into the mirror next to my desk, I swear I could see the silhouette of a boy in an oversize white coat, growing smaller and smaller . . . receding in the reflection. And in the background was the faint outline of a large tree, the Tree.
When I blinked again, the Tree and the boy were gone.