Friday, May 6, 2016

Book Review: The Reflections of Queen Snow White

On the DZA Review Scale, I give it a solid pretty good, but if they turn it into a movie it'll suck. It gets brownie points for being very fast read (less novel, more novella), which is critical for a college student.

Read it here for free!


I'm always down for a post-fairy tale story, when all the classic characters we love actually don't live happily ever after; they still have shit to deal with. In the case of Snow White, she has some serious depression, most recently triggered by the death of her husband Charming, but it's been with her all of her life (her stepmother--named Arglist in this story--completely ruined her self-esteem).

Basically the whole book is Snow White arguing with Arglist's magic mirror (who is a character in and of itself), with chunks of flashbacks to key points in her life. It's one of those classic "downtrodden character thinks about their life and is all better at the end." (oh, whoops, spoiler: she's all better by the end. If that even counts as a spoiler...)

I wish the author had reminded us of the fate of the evil stepmother. He was using the classical version, where Charming and Snow White invite her to their wedding, and she can't resist going (she has to see for herself that Snow White is alive). When she arrives, she's given a pair of red-hot iron shoes and is forced to dance in them until she drops dead. I could not remember that version; all I could remember was the Disney version where she just falls off a cliff (Disney so loves its cliffs...), so I had to go on Wikipedia for a recap. And while he did allude to what happened to the stepmother, without Meredith going in greater depth, the ending of one of Snow White's biggest villains is anticlimactic at best.

However, Snow White herself was fantastic. Instead of the huntsman sparing her life, she runs away on her own. Instead of being all happy go-lucky, staying soft and sweet despite all the bad things she's had to live with, she hates her dead stepmother with a passion and, as mentioned before, has severe depression. But she's not weak; there are scenes were she absolutely kicks ass (even though she has to be saved by Convenient Male Saviors [CMS] twice).

Charming's character was actually the one that's two-dimensional. It might be that we're seeing him through Snow White's point of view, but he doesn't seem to have any flaws. Maybe his righteous anger goes a little overboard, but that's it. He uses really flowery language and talks about God a lot (which would've been a total buzzkill for me, but he did save Snow White life's, so I won't judge her taste in men).

Arglist, while she didn't have nearly as much substance as Snow White, seemed more real in this retelling than in the traditional story. We can see her vanity transformed into bitterness and hatred when Snow White becomes prettier than her, and she seems more crazy than evil.

Crazy's always fun. :)


Spoilers!


The story is non-chronological, bouncing back and forth between Snow White's arguing with the magic mirror (who has the patience of a saint, but even he gets sick of this by the end) and the flashbacks. So we're going to stick with the flashbacks for the most part, because they're where the story really takes place.

Arglist never liked Snow White because she herself was barren, which made Snow White represent the most important thing a queen is supposed to do: provide an heir. So as soon as her dad dies, Snow White is neglected, dressed in rags, and can't have any friends (because Arglist kills all of her friends). Then Arglist starts actually beating on Snow White, trying to make her even more unattractive as she grows into womanhood.

Snow White is warned that the huntsman (really an assassin) is coming after her, so she leaves the palace and says sayonara.

Meets the dwarves and gets poisoned (per usual).

She is saved by Charming (Convenient Male Savior #1), but not by a kiss. Apparently, the prince has experience treating poisons because it happens a lot at court (even though we never see someone getting poisoned once we get to court). One week later, they're engaged (the author gets bonus points because Snow White does realize how crazy this is, but she tells her brain to shut up and just enjoy it).

But of course, Snow White has been tucked away in the underbelly of the palace all throughout her youth, then disappeared to the woods for however long, so there are people who think, Yeah, that can't be Snow White. And if it is, I can make her look like a fake and get the throne for myself.

Enter Lady Adalicia. She's married to a cousin of Snow White's and so has a decent claim to the throne. She tries to make a power move against Snow White by humiliating her in a very similar way Arglist did. Snow White is saved in the nick of time by her uncle (CMS #2).

Because Charming is out of town, Snow White is the one to decide what to do with Adalicia, whose crimes technically count as treason, which is punishable by death. But that was never Snow White's style.

Snow White dresses like her mother (same hairstyle, same dress, etc.) to eliminate any doubt about her parentage, and then has Adalicia and her co-criminals punish each other, basically doing a massive cat fight in the middle of the court room and humiliating themselves in the same way they tried to humiliate Snow White.

(Note: in the above paragraphs, I wrote Arglist instead of Adalicia twice. Why do all the villains have names that start with the letter A? What trauma did the author experience by a woman whose name started with an A?)

Ten years later, Snow White has yet to give Charming an heir, which is bad because the next in line is an uncle who sucks at ruling. This triggers a depressive episode, one severe enough that Snow White attempts suicide. It doesn't work, and it leads to an unrealistic sex scene between Snow White and Charming (there is no way you can have sex comfortably without some kind of lubricant, whether it's the natural lubrication provided by a woman during arousal [which takes more than 20 seconds to produce enough of] or something store-bought; without lube you're in for a world of hurt). A year later, Snow White gives birth to a daughter named Raven.

Fast-forward a little less than twenty years. Charming has just died and Snow White is again in a depressive episode, neglecting everything from her kingdom to her daughter to her health. This lasts for a year, until the day before Raven's wedding, when Snow White finds the mirror. Snow White decides enough is enough and gets back in the game.

And then the author kind of ran out of steam but still wanted to talk about the next twenty years, so he summarized it in two-page epilogue of sorts that was not necessary. It just kind of ends. Awkwardly. Like this.

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Read The Reflections of Queen Snow White here for free!

Thanks for reading!

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