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Reviewed by Amy Powers for Readers' Favorite
Good Tales For Bad Dreams, a series of re-imagined fairy tales, presents the fourth standalone installment in the series with Setsuko & the Seven Samurai by V.M. Sawh. Set in 16th-century Japan, Setsuko is the daughter of the daimyo who controls the surrounding lands, and her father's health has been declining ever since he welcomed the geisha Izanami into the castle as his guest. Izanami's evil plan to take over power is finally put into place when she murders the daimyo and attempts to assassinate Setsuko as well. Unbeknownst to Izanami, Setsuko manages to escape with her life, but disfigurement leaves her blind and unrecognizable. She takes up shelter with her father's former samurai, who aid in training her to fight as she seeks to avenge her father's death and reclaim what is rightfully hers.
Setsuko & the Seven Samurai is a unique retelling of the class fairy tale Snow White, set in the historical era of feudal Japan. V.M. Sawh does an excellent job of incorporating accurate historical as well as cultural information that has been preserved through to modern times. While some prior knowledge of Japanese history might be beneficial for readers, I found the story to be exceptionally refreshing as Eastern and Western stories merge into one hauntingly beautiful and descriptive tale that is easy to imagine and impossible to put down. Most suitable for young adult readers and older, fairy tale lovers are sure to enjoy this novella, which is incomparable to anything I've ever read before.