This is a short story/YA book written by Neil Gaiman, and performed by a full cast in the audiobook. I suppose we get a full cast in exchange for the illustrations we do not get to see. It is an extended and alternate take on Sleeping Beauty, as you may have guessed. And if you know Neil Gaiman, you may have also guessed that nothing is straightforward here. The story seems straightforward enough – the sleeping curse on the kingdom is spreading, and Snow White, the queen of the neighboring kingdom, will have none of that, so she sets off to investigate. Gaiman’s Snow White is a strong female character, but she does have her flaws, especially at the end. I really do not approve of her final choice at all. But until then I did like her – she’s a leader and she shows it. She leaves her “pretty prince” fiancé behind and goes to take care of the threat to her kingdom, in a reversal of what we usually see. As Neil Gaiman says, “I like stories where women save themselves.”
The people that are asleep in the kingdom fall asleep wherever they were when the curse hits, which is what is generally accepted as part of the fairy tale. But once Snow White and her entourage appear, they become creepy AF. You know, in Neil Gaiman style. The animals also fall asleep, but not the insects. I wonder why that is?
I did like how Gaiman tied everything together and offered his explanation. It did make a lot of sense, and is more complex than the original. Not everyone gets a happy ending, though. And you can see how the kingdom has and will continue to suffer due to the actions of the witch who cast the curse. And I do appreciate how one of Snow White’s reactions is basically, ‘Oh, for crying out loud, really?’ But really, Snow kind of ruined it for me at the end, though.