Kelly Link’s Travels with the Snow Queen is certainly a deviation from The Snow Queen. The main elements of the story remain intact: Gerda goes on a journey to the Snow Queen’s palace to find Kai, and the supporting characters that she meets along the way are reminiscent of those in the original. However, this story definitely deviates in that the “happily ever after” seems to be missing and in that the story is much more explicit in content – where the Snow Queen may have been able to pass as a story for all ages, this one has language and sexual references that are not appropriate for children.
This is reminiscent of the way that Deerskin is more explicit than the original Donkeyskin. Further, we can also draw a parallel between Travels with the Snow Queen and Deerskin in that a deeper dimension is given to the story. In Deerskin, the reader witnesses Lissar’s strength as a survivor as she overcomes an absolutely horrifying experience. In Travels with the Snow Queen, we see that Gerda is not stuck in a relationship with Kai – she can leave him if she chooses, and she does so by choosing to become a tour guide for the Snow Queen. This makes Gerda a very powerful heroine – she could have rescued Kai, but she chose not to, deciding that Kai was not deserving of her rescue.
I think one of the main differences that struck me between Travels with the Snow Queen and Deerskin is the point of view. Deerskin is told in the more conventional third person, whereas Travels with the Snow Queen is told in second person – at times it is difficult to place whether we are on Gerda’s tour or whether we are simply along for the ride with her in the story. In either case, the reader is very close to the story – in some cases, the story even seems to address the reader directly. This gives a very different effect from Deerskin, where there is more distance between the reader and the narrative.