Kristen Stewart and the other less visible people behind Snow White and the Hunstman have been getting a lot of flack lately–or at least middling to poor reviews (the film’s at 46% on Rotten Tomatoes right now). I have to admit that I kind of enjoyed it, though. Charlize Theron is a BAMF, there are some great costumes, and some pretty solid CGI (ravens swirling around Theron! butterflies swirling around KStew! deadly glass shards swirling around everybody else of importance!) I totally understand if what essentially amounts to an extended Florence + the Machine video isn’t your thing, though, which is why I’m providing a list of 5 literary adaptations that I think do a pretty good job of breathing life into the fairy tale.
4. Snow by Tracy Lynn
I’ll admit that I read this YA novel when I was pretty young, so my memory is a bit hazy, but I remember that it rocked my 13-year-old world. Don’t be turned off by the fact that it’s targeted at teens–it’s a surprisingly dark, thoughtful update set in Victorian England, and the fairy tale magic is more magical realism-y. You can check out an excerpt here, on author Tracy Lynn’s website.
3. Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire
This one is set in Tuscany in the late 15th century. The really cool thing about this one is that the evil queen role is taken on by a fictional version of Lucrecia Borgia. Remember the Borgias, guys? From history? Basically, there are a lot of good old-fashioned conspiracies and poisoning incidences in Maguire’s take. (Side note: Maguire’s probably best known for writing Wicked, so he has some beloved-story-adaptation credentials.)
2. Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman
This one’s a short story, so it won’t take you long to read! You have no excuse for not picking it up (it can be found in Neil Gaiman’s short story collection, Smoke and Mirrors). I’m sure my love for Neil Gaiman’s writing will become a recurring theme on this blog… he just has a knack for writing great stories set in slightly off-kilter fantasy worlds. This particular story features Snow White being (kind of?) a vampire character, but not in the Twilight over-the-top romance kind of way. It’s also told from the point of view of the stepmother, which is an interesting twist.
1. The Snow Child by Angela Carter
And my #1 choice is another very short story (seriously, it will take you less than 5 minutes to read, and it will totally be worth your time). Angela Carter is another one of my favorite authors, and this story comes from her fantastic collection of fairy tale retellings, The Bloody Chamber. I think what I really like about this story is that instead of attempting to make a really problematic character a feminist heroine, Carter uses the problematic nature of the source material to explore problematic and long-held perceptions of women as objects of beauty and as being in direct competition with one another for male approval. As an added bonus, the language of the story is precise and beautiful.