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Six-Gun Snow White

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  777 ratings  ·  219 reviews
From New York Times bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente comes a brilliant reinvention of one the best known fairy tales of all time. In the novella Six-Gun Snow White, Valente transports the title's heroine to a masterfully evoked Old West where Coyote is just as likely to be found as the seven dwarves.

A plain-spoken, appealing narrator relates the history of her pare...more
Hardcover, Signed, Limited Edition edition, 168 pages
Published February 28th 2013 by Subterranean
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Can't Wait Sci-Fi/Fantasy of 2013
68th out of 612 books — 3,168 voters
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Community Reviews

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I have noticed recently the popularity of spoof novels, mashing together Jane Austen and zombies or Abraham Lincoln with vampires. I am not much tempted to give them a try, having low expectations from the lack of originality and from the low-brow/cheap type of humor. The reason I mentioned them is that I want to stress that Catherynne Valente doesn't belong in this category. She has found a niche as an
author from re-examining classic fairytales and myths from a modern and usually revision...more
Easily one of the most entertaining fairy tale retellings I’ve read, with immersive, evocative prose that emphatically drives home the atmosphere it sets out to generate.

When Mr. H, a local white mining tycoon falls in love with Gun That Sings, one of the Crow Nation, he never foresaw that not only would she soon be dead from childbirth but that he would be left with their baby daughter to care for. Leaving her to the care of various nannies and other hired help, he sets out to continue amassing...more
Catherynne Valente is such a master prose smith that anything she writes is worth reading, but I run hot and cold on the stories she actually tells. Sometimes her stories just seem to get lost in the craft of telling them.

Six-Gun Snow White holds together admirably as a Western retelling of Snow White, with Snow being the half-breed daughter of a rich silver baron and a Crow woman.

Pampered and spoiled and kept hidden away in an upper floor out of sight by Daddy, Snow lives a lonely but untrouble...more
Words. Wordswordswords. Cat Valente is one of those authors that uses lots of words, many of them pretty. But (for me) it's fucking difficult to extract the story from all them thar pretty words.

Are you in there, story? I feel like you must be! Everyone raves about your "gorgeous/lush/elegant/poetic" prose, but what good are all these beautiful sentences if I can't parse their meaning?

Calm down, sentences, you're giving me a headache.

Cat Valente writes books that I want to love. I read what ot...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 4.9* of five

This glittering reimagination of a foundational myth wins an almost-perfect score from me. Go take a gander. Valente is a reliable source of wonderful and creative takes and re-takes on fairy tales, but she's also a wordsmith of astounding facility.
Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship
Jun 27, 2013 Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people not born in red clothes
Recommended to Stuti by: someone in a red suit
You’re in a story and the body writing it is an asshole.

There are stories and there are characters. Then, you also have stories with characters and characters with stories.

But what Valente does is entirely different. She creates her characters, and they move on, swirl around, slowly and surely coalescing into a story, pushing it forward even as they become the story.

Six-Gun Snow White is a retelling and it stays very true to the original fairytale, but it is much more honest and original than a...more
It doesn’t happen to me very often, but ever so rarely I come across a book that’s so purely brilliant that it almost stuns me, a story that’s so gorgeous and rich that I feel paralyzed: not just unable to verbalize how much I love it but actually almost reluctant to, because trying to encapsulate it in a review feels like sullying it, like tacking on extraneous words that it really doesn’t need.

In the case of Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente, which is—in case it wasn’t clear yet—one...more
So very in love with this novella. One of my favorite fairy tale retellings to date, being both incredibly faithful to the original structure and completely creative to the details and spirit of the thing. Perhaps my favorite Snow White and favorite Valente, though both those statements are a bit huge given my love of Fairyland and Fables.
Kate Bond
This is a hard review to write. It took me a long time to read the book--which is really just a novella--because every few pages I had to set it aside for Feelings reasons. Valente has so much to say about so many important things, and she says them all so beautifully. Snow White suffers as a minority, as a woman, and as a helpless child, and in each of these roles, perhaps the most painful thing for her is that she is always caught between two worlds, never belonging in either; she is claimed b...more
This is quite different to Valente's other work in some ways, and very much of a piece with it in others. All good ways, I think. Her talent with words is very much apparent, but in some ways this is moderated a bit from the super-rich, super-intense poetic language in her other work. Every bit of it feels targeted: bang, bang, bang. The narrative voice is, to me, similar to that in Charles Portis' True Grit: how well it compares in general with the rest of that genre, I wouldn't know.

For me, th...more
Wow. I'm sifting through my feelings on this book.

The positives: it's by Valente, so the language is gorgeous and often perfect. The cover by Charles Vess is gorgeous. The concept is original and the way it's carried out is often brilliant. The "old west" setting feels authentic and dynamic. Visual cues and themes from the original fairy tales (both Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Snow White and Rose Red) are clever, interesting, breathtaking. Having the main character be of mixed ethnic h...more
Ranting Dragon
Catherynne M. Valente is currently best known for her young adult Fairyland Series, but she’s also won awards for her adult novels The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden and Palimpset. Her writing is utterly unique from concept to style and always a treat. So we here at The Ranting Dragon were really excited to hear about her latest release, a novella entitled Six-Gun Snow White. Released back in January, it’s proved to be a difficult commodity to come across. Subterranean is a specialty publis...more
My Review: 9 - Couldn't Put It Down

So I was halfway through the Gladstone when my Kindle died and I had no immediate means of recharging. The next book in the pile was Valente's fairy-tale re-telling of Snow White, so I decided I'd read it until my Kindle was charged and then go back to the Gladstone. Except, of course I couldn't stop reading this once I started: I don't know what the appeal is with Snow White as a fairy tale heroine: she features in Bill Willingham's Fables, is the main princes...more
Ben Babcock
My ePub copy of this from the Hugo Voters Packet had really messed up formatting, but I perservered anyway, because this story is awesome. Six-Gun Snow White is the classic Snow White fairytale reinterpreted through the lens of the Old American West. Snow White is the ironically-named child of a silver mine owner and a Crow woman, Gun That Sings, who married him against her will so that he would leave her people alone. Gun That Sings dies in childbirth, and Snow White’s father hides her away, em...more
Nancy O'Toole
Six-Gun Snow White provides a fresh perspective on one of the most (if not THE most) popular fairy tales by retelling it as as western. In this version, Snow White is not a princess, but a sharp shooter. Other characters, such as the huntsman, the seven dwarves, and even Prince Charming, are similarly reinvented in creative ways. The novella, like all works by Catherynne Valente, is expertly written. The first half of the novella is told from Snow White's perspective. The second half is written...more
Fantasy Review Barn

I may have a new rule when reading Valente. First give the book five stars. Then read the awesomeness. Repeat and enjoy. No review I do will ever do justice to her works.

Fairytale deconstruction is hard to do, which is why parody is so much more common. Snow White may be the silliest fairytale I can think of. I am therefore kind of amazed that my favorite deconstruction efforts both deal with Snow White; Neil Gaiman’s short story ‘Snow, Glass, Apples’ and this new effort by Va...more
I grew up on fairy tales. Wee-Amy grew up on magic and mystery and beautiful people. Wee-Amy, however, liked the dark side so much more: Cinderella’s evil stepmother being forced to dance to death in her red-hot iron shoes; little Kay, lost to the evil snow queen, scorning the love of his ever-faithful Gerda; the little boy being beheaded by his stepmother in “The Juniper Tree,” Snow White being tricked, over and over, by her jealous stepmother. Even at a young age, I knew sometimes the prince j...more
Valente turns her craftsmanship to the story of Snow White and the setting of American West, and I tell you, it's gorgeous. The language is jaw-dropping and painfully true sometimes.

"She forbade me to eat sweets or any good thing til I got thin as a dog and could hardly stand I was so damn hungry— there, now you’re beautiful, she said and I did not know if it was my dog-bones showing or my crawling in front of her begging for a miserable apple to stop my belly screaming that made me fair."

The ot...more
Fantasy Literature
C.S. Lewis once wrote his goddaughter, “Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” It seems an odd statement at first, that one is ever not the right age to read fairy tales, but I think there is something truthful about that assessment. We read fairy tales to our youngsters, to teach them the way of the world, to be wary of strangers, that dragons can be defeated if you are brave enough, to keep your word and to guard your tongue. But after a while, the children grow u...more
I read Six-Gun Snow White because a blogger I follow recommended it and I quote:

"It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.


You need to read this book."

~Amy of Lucy's Football & BookSnobbery.

So I did. Now normally, I wouldn't touch a Western with a 10' pole - they just don't do anything for me - so it was difficult to wrap my brain around the style in which this book was written, but it was intriguing. While I didn't get the magical "I had to stop and catch my breath" moments that th...more
4.5 stars only because I likely won't reread; still. Valente does it again. Give her the Hugo already.

All the familiar characters and pieces are all lined up but I promise you that there never has been and never will be another Snow White like this. In Snow's world (and mine), "you can't kiss a girl into anything." In other words, you have to stick around and see what happens, and it is almost never what you expect.

Valente's greatest gifts are her ability to create a thousand different charact...more
Catherynne M. Valente and I have this relationship: I think her books sound interesting, pick them up, and then I start to read them and stop. I can't exactly say why. This has happened with Palimpset and The Girl Who Circumvented Fairy Land in blah, blah, blah. Honestly, it's me. I just can't shovel through the mucky muck to get to the real story. That is, Valente takes a very long walk around the garden, pointing out butterflies in order to make her point and by the time she does, I have forgo...more
This review originally appeared on my blog, Books Without Any Pictures:

Six-Gun Snow White combines the mythos of the Wild West with the familiar story of Snow White, crafting a poignant story of what it’s like to be an outsider. The story begins when Mr. H., a silver baron, coerces a Native American woman named Gun Who Sings to be his wife. Gun Who Sings doesn’t conform to the white man’s way of life, and dies soon after bearing a child. The girl has a lon...more
Absolutely amazing, and my pick for best novella in this year's Hugos category. It's a beautifully written fairytale Western feat. a mixed Native Snow White, strong ladies, a complex and slightly tragic stepmother, a plucky child growing to maturity and carving her own path in the world. It's revisionist, feminist: by the time we reach this story's version of the Seven Dwarves, I was practically falling out of my chair with excitement. The stepmother's abuse is partially founded on self-loathing...more
Jeremy Preacher
Like everything of Cat Valente's I've read, this is gorgeous. (The physical book is gorgeous, too, I might add. Those endpapers!) The imagery is stunning, and some of the angles on the fairy tale (particularly the business with the deer's heart) are brilliant. It's grim as hell, of course. Fairy tales almost always are, and any serious look at race and gender in the Old West can't be anything else.

The only thing I wasn't totally satisfied with was the ending. It's a clever use of the glass case...more
What an unusual and unique retelling of the snow white tale! So many gems of language are hidden in this tiny novella.

It took a little while to get used to how the story was told (in very short chapters, told by Snow White herself for the first half and then by a separate narrator for the second half because "You can tell a true story about your parents if you're [...] good at sorting lies like laundry, but no one can tell a true story about themselves.") What's more important about the storytel...more
My biggest problem with this book is that I'm not in love with it. In fact, I've yet to fall in love with any Valente's books and I've read a couple and tried several more. I've enjoyed the ones I've read. I didn't close the DNFs out of any sense of dislike, more with an air of 'I'm gonna get back into this later when I'm more in the mood.' Valente is an extraordinarily imaginative author capable of truly breathtaking prose, and even more than that she writes exactly along the genres closest to...more
Once again, Catherynne Valente has confused the boundaries of genre, with a mostly-Western retelling of Snow White.
While I didn't care for the ending as much as the rest of the book, overall it was a delightfully twisted retelling, combined with a very gritty version of the old west, both real and imaginary. Whether escaping from a truly wicked stepmother or planning what would have been the most entertaining bank robbery in history, this Snow White isn't entirely a victim, at least for most of...more
I received this novella as part of the Hugo Voters Packet. It is spectacular, beautiful and harsh and magical like the Old West, the best version of any fairy tale I've read.

It's better than at least four of the five Hugo novel nominees.

It's better than Neil Gaiman's retelling of the same tale.

It's also a bit silly, but so gorgeous I don't even care. This category is going to be a tough one.
An interesting fairy tale retelling using a Native American motif. I really enjoyed this. I won't go into rhapsodies over the writing, but I thought there were some very strong messages delivered with a punch. For instance, when Snow White has been starved rail thin , her step mother says to her "Now you're beautiful". In fact, the entire theme of how we all want our parents' love is very powerful.

However, I did not like the ending. (In fact, I wasn't keen on the Deer Boy storyline but I could h...more
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Catherynne M. Valente was born on Cinco de Mayo, 1979 in Seattle, WA, but grew up in in the wheatgrass paradise of Northern California. She graduated from high school at age 15, going on to UC San Diego and Edinburgh University, receiving her B.A. in Classics with an emphasis in Ancient Greek Linguistics. She then drifted away from her M.A. program and into a long residence in the concrete and cam...more
More about Catherynne M. Valente...
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1) Deathless (Deathless, #1) The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Fairyland, #2) In the Night Garden (The Orphan's Tales, #1) Palimpsest

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“This is what it means to be a woman in this world. Every step is a bargain with pain. Make your black deals in the black wood and decide what you’ll trade for power. For the opposite of weakness, which is not strength but hardness. I am a trap, but so is everything. Pick your price. I am a huckster with a hand in your pocket. I am freedom and I will eat your heart.” 27 likes
“I thought: this is how you make a human being. A human being is beautiful and sick. A human being glitters and starves.” 7 likes
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