Gaiman smushes the stories of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty together in this gorgeously illustrated novella. The setting of the book is sometime after Snow White is awakened from her coffin and at the 100 year mark after Sleeping Beauty’s curse set in. But the stakes are raised when the sleeping sickness that has fallen on the princess and her kingdom is spreading out further and further as the curse lingers. Several of the dwarves bring this to their queen, and conveniently she is looking for a reason to get out of her upcoming wedding. Snow sets off, armored up, to break the curse and save both kingdoms and everyone in between.
It’s so interesting that Snow White is often a queen we return to and recreate into a true warrior. Is it because she is the most simpering of the Disney Princesses? I think of Snow White and the Huntsman, the Fables series, and now this, and it tickles me that we want her to pick up the sword. Gaiman manages to balance Snow’s warrior side with a gentle, contemplative demeanor – she is a Queen doing her duty. Perhaps she has soldiers she could send out in her stead, but then she’d have to deal with that pesky engagement.
The plotting has an excellent twist that gives the story both humor and pathos. And lastly, the illustrations! They are exquisitely detailed. The traces of gold are a luxe touch. I am not sure I understand the recurring skull motif, but it gives it an old-fashioned Tim Burton quality which I can certainly get behind.
A quick but rich story to be swallowed in one sitting and returned to for those intricate illustrations.