The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David C. Meredith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Beautiful, yet heart wrenching. Not for kids.
Queen Snow White is in mourning. Prince Charming is dead and she finds herself in a haze, unable to feel anything but pain and loss, despite the joyous preparations for her daughter's upcoming wedding. Looking for a quiet place absent of backstabbing nobility, she wanders into a disused tower in her castle and finds herself face to face with the magic mirror her wicked step mother adored all those years ago.
I must say this story left me speachless. The language is beautiful, as are the images it brings to mind, and Snow White's story is wrought with both heartache and joy. We learn the gritty truths behind the children's fairy tale as the mirror helps Snow White take a good look at who she really is. Some of the scenes are graphically violent, such as the one that reveals the extent Lady Arglist's abuse, made all the worse because it follows on a scene of an even younger Snow White sharing what she hoped her new mommy would be like.
But the story isn't all heartache. Snow White's happiest moments are just as important to whom she has become. I wasn't exactly surprised when I encountered Snow White's wedding night. I did a cursory look-over of some of the other reviews and saw tag lines like "not your kid's snow white" when I was deciding whether to review it. That's usually code for adult content. I've read a few mature-audience stories that have fairy tale origins, and I think it's important that reviewers are extremely clear, in those cases, that there is adult content. However, I think the author did a great job making the intimate content relevant to the story and bringing the emotional aspects into play. Sure, it was explicit, but it was also beautiful, one of the most cherished memories the aging Snow White possesses. It broke my heart when she awoke in the room with the mirror and reality crashed in on her.
The mirror keeps drawing her in to experience each heartache, each triumph, each fear, all reflections of her true self, someone Snow White had long forgotten and perhaps never quite understood. This journey of self-discovery is what made me love this story. I will definitely want to read this again.
On a lighter note, I did find myself trying to match the dwarves to their counterparts in the Disney movie. I suspect Snow White's close friend Erfruet is Dopey*, because he was the youngest, and Grantig was Grumpy. I enjoyed doing so, though I think these characters were likely meant to match up with the literary version of the story, not the Disney version. Also, some of the character and kingdom names and titles were quite a mouthful. I most likely butchered them when I tried to pronounce them in my head.
So overall, I loved this story, but I must caution that it is for adult readers only. This is not a children's book. I would recommend this to people who enjoy a grown up spin on classic fairy tales.
I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest, non-reciprocal review.
*I learned something new after chatting with the author about my theory about his names. He informed me that Erfruet is actually Happy (in German) and that the Disney characters were actually the inspiration for the names. I managed to guess Grantig correctly, and Artz in the book is a tweak to Arzt, for Doc. In the Snow White book, they are never actually named. He used German names because the original Snow White story is from Germany. I love little tidbits like this.
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