A Human and Hideous Snow White

Reading A Tale of Two Castles put me in a mood to reread a favorite Gail Carson Levine book, Fairest.  Set in the same world as Ella Enchanted (and very loosely connected), this one is a retelling of Snow White.

The main character, Aza, has milky white skin, blood red lips, and coal black hair–the traditional Snow White.  Except that Levine takes this to its literal and logical conclusion.  Pay no attention to the cover–Aza is ugly.  As someone would be who had literally white skin, red lips, and black hair.  In her favor, Aza has a kind disposition, a loving family, and a magnificent singing voice.  She’s not a princess, but she ends up visiting the castle for the King’s wedding to his new bride, and finds herself caught up in intrigue–and intrigued by the handsome prince.

As with Ella Enchanted, Levine has given us a very clever, practical and creative retelling of a familiar fairy tale.  Many of the original elements are there, but reshaped.

Aza is the best part of this.  Besides the part about her appearance, she’s a wonderfully human character.  She’s not perfect, but she’s sympathetic.  She wants to do the right thing, but doesn’t know what to do in some difficult situations.  She has to find her own strength, and her own value.  She struggles a lot with her appearance, and sometimes gives in to temptations.  She’s both likable and realistically flawed.

This is definitely an excellent Snow White retelling–one of the few.  It occurred to me I hadn’t read many, and a recent search didn’t turn up much.  Anyone have a suggestion for another good retelling of Snow White?

Author’s Site: http://gailcarsonlevine.com/

4 thoughts on “A Human and Hideous Snow White

  1. Mary Bowers

    If you like fairy tale adaptations, you will love the upcoming ABC series Once Upon a Time. Snow White is actually a main character – played by Ginnifer Goodwin – and this story is a wonderful twist on the old collection of story book tales. I saw the pilot at Comic Con and met the cast and writers – who were part of the LOST writing team. I loved it. It debuts in October – but you can see the trailer on youtube or ABC website. I am eagerly anticipating this one!

    1. I love fairy tale retellings! I don’t have TV (I love Netflix too) but I’ll have to figure out a good way to find that series…I think I saw a preview for it and it sounds intriguing!

  2. Funny how Disney made the description of Snow White into a beautiful girl, but if it is taken literally, she could be pretty unattractive. Guess it would depend how red her lips were. I’ve known at least one girl with black hair and pale skin – she didn’t look too bad! The book sounds like fun.

    1. Zoey Deschanel comes to mind too–she has very pale skin and dark hair, and is really pretty. So it’s possible…but I really enjoy Levine’s interpretation of the extreme version of Grimms’ description!

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