Snow, Glass, Apples was a gift from cannonballer Ardaigle for the CBR15 Holiday Book Exchange. I’d put it on my wish list because I’ve enjoyed the Gaiman novels that I’ve read so far and the art for this short story looked (and truly is) gorgeous. As you might guess from the title, this is a version of Snow White, but it is not like any Snow White I’ve ever read. Like the works of Angela Carter and Helen Oyeyemi, this is an adult fairy tale, but it is decidedly dark and twisted. I loved it.
Gaiman’s Snow White story features the characters you expect: a king whose wife has died, his young daughter, a woman whose beauty seduces the king, and yes, even the dwarves. The beautiful woman, the narrator of the tale, becomes queen, but her relationship with her stepdaughter is strained. In this telling of the tale, however, it is not that the queen is jealous of her stepdaughter’s beauty. The little girl is … highly unusual and dangerous. The queen may possess some sort of witchy powers, but the girl herself seems possessed by very dark forces. The queen’s goal is to save her people and keep her kingdom and its forest safe for travelers. She is the hero in this telling of Snow White while Snow White’s actions make her something of a monster. Gaiman turns this well known fairy tale on its head to chilling effect. The violence, gore, nudity and sex make Snow, Glass, Apples an adult story.
The art in this book is just amazing. Artist Colleen Doran provides “notes” at the end of the story in which she discusses her love for an Irish artist named Harry Clarke, whose art work, along with that of Aubrey Beardsley, inspired her drawings for this story. Doran’s illustrations have that curvy, ornately detailed look that I associate with Art Nouveau and which seems perfectly suited for depicting fairy tales. The gowns and headpieces that both the queen and Snow White wear are gorgeous, and nearly every page of the story has incredibly intricate background detail in the form of flora and fauna as well as architectural design. The traditional beauty of those pages from the story make the gore and violence that ensues all the more shocking, which really serves Gaiman’s tale well.
Snow, Glass, Apples is a short but gripping read that shocks the reader. I’m sure I’ll never be able to see the Disney Snow White again without thinking of Gaiman’s version, which I think I actually prefer! This is a good story with outstanding art supporting it, making it impossible for the reader to look away. My CBR16 is off to an excellent start!