White as Snow
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White as Snow (The Fairy Tale Series)

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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  2,280 ratings  ·  149 reviews
Once upon a time there was a mirror. . . .

So begins this dark, unusual retelling of the story of Snow White by the writer reviewers have called “the Angela Carter of the fantasy field”—a whole novel based on a beloved story, turning it into a dark and sensual drama full of myth and magic.

Arpazia is the aging queen who paces the halls of a warlord’s palace. Cold as winter,...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 5th 2000 by St. Martins Press-3pl
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Nikki
There are some beautiful aspects of this book, and then there's the fact that nearly every female character is raped, often multiple times. The beauty is mostly in some of the writing and descriptions, though some of the ideas are also pretty interesting in theory -- Lee blends the story of Snow White with the Greco-Roman myth of Hades and Persephone.

This isn't either story as you know it, though, and for me it ultimately didn't work. The two stories didn't blend very well, because I was spendin...more
Lisa
Dec 03, 2013 Lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: adults who like fairy tales
This is simply the finest novelization of a fairy tale. Tanith Lee has created a simply marvelous world where the Snow White tale is retold.

9.21.08
Ok, so I'm rereading this one again too! A patron was talking to me about books at the library and how sad it was when there was only one book left in the system. I told him that one of my favorite books of all times (which I own) has only one copy in the system and he wanted to know what it was. After hem-hawing that he probably would be interested...more
Jess
I'm sure everyone should know by now that I absolutely love fairytale retellings. And if you didn't know, well, now you do.

This book is basically everything I want in a fairytale retelling, and so much more.

It takes the tale of Snow White and spins it on its head, mixing in elements from Greek mythology, particularly the tale of Persephone and Demeter. It sometimes doesn't read like a fairytale retelling; oftentimes, it's so loose it may as well be its own story. But even so, it keeps the imager...more
Alice
I certainly didn't expect this book to be a chore when I first picked it up. It sounded intriguing. A retelling of Snow White? With the Queen's perspective? Told with some of the Persephone myth thrown in? Sign me up!

And I think having my hopes way up is worse, somehow, than not being sure what to expect. Because I got two-thirds through this before I realized how much I disliked it, and then I was invested in finishing it.

I didn't like that almost all the female characters are raped. I guess it...more
Jean
There was a lot I liked about this book, and a lot that I didn't, or a lot that I was just indifferent to. Weaving the tale of Hades and Persephone into Snow White always seemed superfluous and odd; there are no natural parallels and the ones Lee makes feels like one tale being forced onto another, and sometimes the elements of Snow White, of which this is allegedly a retelling, disappear into the other. And there are what I feel like small fudgings or just plain mistakes, like saying that it wa...more
Jenn Dattilo Watts
This is the second time I read this book and the really interesting thing is I don't think I picked up on ANY of the major themes the first time. In my own defense it was over ten years ago that I read it, but it was like reading a brand new book this second reading.

First and foremost this is not a book for children. Young adults may be able to read it, but it is definitely intended for adults. There are continuing themes of rape, reflection, mythology, madness, and the idea that life is what y...more
Laura Guill
This was one of the most miserable books I've ever read. Yes, lots of sex (as I was expecting, since it's marketed as an adult fairy tale), but it was all impersonal and detached. Lots of rape, lots of women being used. However, the women hardly ever reacted, and when they did seem to actively participate--the author then skipped over it. Smutty romance novel this was not. It seemed more about abuse and misery. Even having read Game of Thrones, this book has a striking lack of empathy or--any--e...more
Jenny
Tanith Lee's White as Snow is elegent and sensual and terrible. Not terrible as in badly written, but terrible in it's absence of feeling, hideous in it's coldness. It's a fairy tale in which there can be no truly happy ending.

This version of Snow White is twined with the myth of Demeter and Persephone. It begins with Arpazia, the little girl who becomes the witch queen, then follows with Coira, her unwanted daughter, product of rape. In fact, about halfway through the book, I lost track of how...more
Anna Mesick
White As Snow is the WORST book I've ever read. It's twisted, depressing, and perverted. You'll want to take a shower (and some Prozac) after reading this. I'll never read anything by Tanith Lee again. The only reason I finished reading this book is because I was bed-ridden with a leg injury and couldn't limp to the bookshelf to grab something else to read. I'm honestly surprised this book has any favorable reviews.
Katarina
I absolutely love fairytale retellings. Over time, many fairytales have become simplified, saccharine, and flat. The sad thing is that fairytales were dark and complex, meant for adults instead of children. The good thing is that it allows writers so much room to work with them and reshape them. Tanith Lee is a genius. This book is a clever combining of Snow White, the Demeter/Persephone myth, and the 7 deadly sins, with political intrigue and Medieval culture. It is very dark, in a way that I...more
Joshua
Tanith lee's "White As Snow" is yet another rewrite of the classic fairy tale "Snow White." All the original elements can be found here, the wicked queen, the young princess, and the dwarves, the enchanted mirror and apple make an appearance as well, but to a lesser degree. In this authors work everything is tilted, twisted and warped into a dark, blood soaked novel.
I appreciate lee's vision, I understand the barbaric cruelty and tortured mother/daughter relationship she try's, and partly succe...more
M—
I'm a fan of Tanith Lee's work and her collection of fairy tales in Red as Bood is among my particular favorites, but I couldn't get in to this novel at all. It seems so... bloated to me, far away from the cutting brilliance of Lee's other fairy-tale retellings. I strongly recommend Windling and Datlow's anthology series of fairy-tale retellings over Windling's novel-length Fairy Tale series.

Jane Yolen's incredible Briar Rose, which started off this Fairy Tale series, is still my favorite from i...more
Jason
A dark and unusual retelling of Snow White, it weaves together elements from the traditional versions of the tale with evocative symbolism, classical mythology, postmodern psychology, and a uniquely feminist viewpoint. Both protagonists are complex and compelling without being remotely likable. All the relationships in this version of the fairy tale are complicated and none of them are wholly positive: readers who prefer some kind of redemptive moral in their fairy tales will be disappointed. Wh...more
Tanja Berg
This is a re-writing of the Snow White tale, mostly out of the the view of the Queen. There was some high-flying literary experiments going on here that I did not have the patience to try to understand. So when my boredom reached it's peak at 30%, I left it.

This is not a bad book I suppose - so don't let me deter you from reading it, if you fancy to do so - it just was not to my taste. Wrong book at the wrong time.
Michelle Wardhaugh
Harsh. And rich. A very feminist take on the Snow White myth. And a true one for all that. When one part of the world has complete power over another part, only tragedy can result for those who can't or won't conform to being objectified and owned. Yet this story has balance. Not everything that is male is evil. Not everything that is female is victim. This book is worthy of study, but it works less well for escapism. Instead of taking you away from the unwanted realities of life, it puts a micr...more
Meredith
Well written but otherwise lacking, this book is disappointing considering the caliber of Tanith Lee's other work. It seemed to be obscene and cruel at times simply for the sake of being obscene and cruel.
Shazza Maddog
I enjoyed this novel, but it didn't pack the emotional punch that many of Ms. Lee's other works have. I think, because I'd recently read another book by an author who described things in Lee's manner, her descriptions left me blase rather than enthralled.

That said, White as Snow is an excellent retelling of Snow White, with a big dash of Persephone thrown in for good measure. A beautiful, though hard, young girl is stolen from her castle home when an invader threatens - and winds up the wife of...more
Toni
A retelling of Snow White with some Demeter and Persephone thrown in for kicks. Creepy and intriguing as hell.
Duge Buwembo
Wow what an incredible feat of creative writing this book is. I absolutely loved this book, I was drawn in and hooked too the end. Tanith Lee deftly weaves the snow white story with celtic legend and classical mythology into a marvel of fantasy literature. Tanith Lee's writing is artistic; unique quirks, accents and touches abound. The story is like a dance, with pivots and twirls that would challenge the best ballet dancer. You can tell that this book was lovingly made, it is the best snow whit...more
Lisa Lemus
Loved this redone version of Snow White.
Stephanie
While Tanith Lee's style is complex and rich, this book is not for the faint of heart.

There are many versions of the Snow White story, many of which are not particularly happy. They are for adults, a taste of the fairy tales that once entranced as children combined with the bite of reality. The queen in this particular version is a prisoner of war, forced to marry a tyrant for her beauty alone. During the traumas of Arpazia's new life, she becomes known as the witch queen, beautiful and deadly i...more
Alice Lee
I really didn't like it. After reading a fantastic and dark little short story by Tanith Lee that I found in my textbook (the name escapes me at the moment), which was also a fairy tale retelling, I eagerly looked up her work and found this. Oh I was excited to start reading, and I even remember liking the beginning. Then it was all downhill from there. I couldn't even finish the book, by the time I was about half way through. The main character Coira was a complete bore, the dwarves stuck me as...more
April
Feb 06, 2008 April rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like dark faery tales retold
I love this book and all of its "vulgarities" as someone commented, but then I just love a twisted and dark faery tale. I'm re-reading it after having somehow misplaced it many years ago. I've always loved stories about Persephone and Demeter and though this is about Snow White, it also complements the original mythological tale about the Goddess of Springtime and the Lord of the Underworld. I like the religious comparison of the 7 dwarves to the 7 deadly sins. There are a lot of "pagan" element...more
FantasyWereld
Cyrion en andere magistrale verhalen, geschreven door Tanith Lee, is een van mijn absolute lievelingsboeken: niet alleen door het geweldige personage Cyrion, maar vooral ook vanwege de verschillende hervertellingen van sprookjes in deze bundel. Lee is er namelijk heel goed in om ‘onschuldige’ vertellingen zoals Rapunzel te verdraaien tot bijzonder duistere, macabere verhalen. De sprookjesweek op FantasyWereld is dan ook een goed moment om een andere hervertelling van haar hand uit de kast te tre...more
Maurinejt
2.5

This has been on my "to read" list for many years, and when I recently ran into a review that referred to it, I decided to give it a try.

I have to give Lee credit for taking the tropes of the original story and weaving it into something plausible and complex while still maintaining the original fairy-tale like quality. However.

You have to be very careful when you make your main character an emotional eunuch, or no one will sympathize with her. Both main characters had this problem, and after...more
Veronica
I read this book for a college course on fairy tales and folklore. I have read some of Lee's other novels, most notably Black Unicorn, Red Unicorn, and the Secret Books of Paradyse, and was excited to read her retelling of the Snow White fairy tale. On the whole, this book was good. Lee attempts to give more insight into the central female characters, especially the Queen. Lee actually gives the queen a name and a personality, and not a wholly unsympathetic one at that. Coira, a.k.a. Snow White,...more
Nan
I posted this review many years ago on Amazon, and I'm cross posting it here:

OK. I must not be a fan of dark fantasy. Maybe that's my problem with this book. However, I am a fan of Terri Windling's Fairy Tale Series. I bought this book in hardcover because it was a part of the series--although the fact that it was written by Tanith Lee gave me some serious qualms.

I can admire that Lee is a talented writer than can truly mine the depths of darkness to write a fantastic story. However, even while...more
Kathryn
Tanith Lee keeps startling me with how much I enjoy her re-interpreted fairy tales. This isn't just a simple "I Wonder What If" story, where the main characters are thrown into present day, or had their genders reversed, or cast as animals, or anything like that. The book combines Snow White and the Seven Dwarves with the myth of Demeter and Persephone, at a time when Christianity was taking all the old stories and turning everyone into Mary, or Jesus, or the Seven Deadly Sins. (Remember the dwa...more
Juushika
Captured from her father's sacked castle, Arpazia is wed to the warlord Draco and bears his child, Coria. Isolated and maddened, Arpazia abandons her daughter—but as Arpazia ages to cronehood and Coria comes of age, the two are tied together by their competing, opposing roles. Mixing the fairy tale of Snow White with the Greek myth of Persephone and early Christian liturgy, White as Snow is bursting with imagery that sometimes weaves a complex, symbolic tapestry and sometimes tangles upon itself...more
Tabitha Vohn
If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you took equal parts fairy tale and Greek myth, and mixed in a little Mists of Avalon and Angela Carter for good measure, the answer would be White as Snow. Lee combines several variations of the old Snow White tale, as told not only by the Brothers Grimm but also by the originators of the tale, whom the Grimms “borrowed from”. One such piece which makes this re-telling particularly powerful is the idea of the Queen as mother and not step-mother. This...more
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Tanith Lee is a British writer of science fiction, horror, and fantasy. She is the author of 77 novels, 14 collections, and almost 300 short stories. She has also written four radio plays broadcast by the BBC and two scripts for the UK, science fiction, cult television series "Blake's 7."
Before becoming a full time writer, Lee worked as a file clerk, an assistant librarian, a shop assistant, and a...more
More about Tanith Lee...
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“Once upon a time fairy tales were told to audiences of young and old alike. It is only in the last century that such tales were deemed fit only for small children, stripped of much of their original complexity, sensuality, and power to frighten and delight.” 34 likes
“To most people today, the name Snow White evokes visions of dwarfs whistling as they work, and a wide–eyed, fluttery princess singing, "Some day my prince will come." (A friend of mine claims this song is responsible for the problems of a whole generation of American women.) Yet the Snow White theme is one of the darkest and strangest to be found in the fairy tale canon — a chilling tale of murderous rivalry, adolescent sexual ripening, poisoned gifts, blood on snow, witchcraft, and ritual cannibalism. . .in short, not a tale originally intended for children's tender ears. Disney's well–known film version of the story, released in 1937, was ostensibly based on the German tale popularized by the Brothers Grimm. Originally titled "Snow–drop" and published in Kinder–und Hausmarchen in 1812, the Grimms' "Snow White" is a darker, chillier story than the musical Disney cartoon, yet it too had been cleaned up for publication, edited to emphasize the good Protestant values held by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. (...) Variants of Snow White were popular around the world long before the Grimms claimed it for Germany, but their version of the story (along with Walt Disney's) is the one that most people know today. Elements from the story can be traced back to the oldest oral tales of antiquity, but the earliest known written version was published in Italy in 1634.” 5 likes
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