This is the second book I’ve read for the Once Upon a Time VIII Challenge hosted by Carl@stainlesssteeldroppings. It’s also the 14th book I’ve read this year, but unfortunately this is not a lucky number. Enchanted by its cover, feeling abandoned after the first chapter, that’s how I would describe my experience with this new take on the Snow White fairy tale.
Snow is young and beautiful, of an earthy beauty, as the author mentions quite a few times in the book, sensual and voluptuous. Her stepmother, Lilith, is a beauty as well, the light, ethereal kind. The king is away at war (he’s neither handsome nor young, but coarse and old and stout) and Lilith is plotting to get rid of the beautiful Snow. There’s the huntsman, whom she pays for his services in a most unexpected way, the dwarves, loyal and kind and too trusty, and the handsome prince who’s charmed by the earthy beauty of Snow only to discover that he doesn’t really like straightforward, lusty princesses that make him feel somehow redundant. Also there’s something, a secret he keeps that made me wonder what kind of person he really is. He seems charming and lovely, but like with other things in this book, that’s just deceiving, and we never find out how he came to the forest or why.
Snow, on the other hand, starts out as a young woman who enjoys life to the fullest, drinking beer with the dwarves and riding horses wearing men’s clothing. Everybody loves her, even though she can be a little rough, but a real lady when she has to which was a bit confusing. I’m not entirely convinced this book is not a parody, in which case it’s a good one.
Elements of other fairy tales are present – a glittering pair of shoes, an old woman leaving crumbs on the way to her house in the forest, and even Alladin and his lamp make a surprise appearance. The poisonous apple does its job yet again, but it’s not the prince who brings Snow back to life, and her accepting his marriage proposal feels more like a calculated move than an act of love. But that’s not what detracted me from the first few promising pages of the story. It was my inability to really like any of the characters – I almost ended up liking the step mother, as the author showed glimpses of her past – forced to marry young and go to a foreign kingdom to an old husband, it almost makes her a character to be pitied until she does something that makes her uninteresting and not really worth rooting for. It’s a shame, because more details about what happened in her childhood would have made her a more interesting character, if not one to like, perhaps one to respect.
The ending is shocking and would have been even better if we knew why it had to happen this way. It only added yet another unresolved mystery to the pile.
My rating: 2/5 stars
Read in March 2014