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Dark Shimmer

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  508 ratings  ·  113 reviews
Set in medieval Venice, this captivating fairy tale retelling by award-winning author Donna Jo Napoli explores belonging, beauty, and the transformative power of love through the eyes of a teenage girl. Dolce has grown up hidden away on an island in a lagoon. She is a giant, a freak, tormented by everyone but her loving mother. She spends her time learning the valuable ...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Wendy Lamb Books
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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"Better a serpent than a stepmother!"


Donna Jo Napoli, an American author, has penned a retelling of Snow White in her entertaining and charming book called, Dark Shimmer which narrates the life story of the evil queen, where she is born as a giant and is looked upon as a disgrace or rather as a monster among her island of dwarfs but only loved and accepted by her own mother, until tragedy strikes.


Dolce is a monster. A giant, a freak.

Dolce is a princess. She walks like
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to TL by: BooksAMillion website
3.5 stars

Took a bit to get started but overall enjoyed reading this (being in a funk for a few days notwithstanding). At first was wary but intrigued at where the author was setting the story but any concerns (in my case) were swept away.

The explanation offered for Dolce doing what she did was very well done and very clever. I had watched a segment on that with "Mysteries at the Museum" (view spoiler)
Mar 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fresh take on the Snow White fairy tale and the origins of the "Wicked Stepmother", set in a breathtaking Venice. In this version, Dolce (our future "Evil Queen") is raised on an island of dwarves, where she is reviled and led to believe that she is a giantess. This is Venice, so of course there is glass, and where there is glass there are mirrors, but nothing is quite what you think. Filled with a rich cast of characters and dark, sumptuous imagery, this is probably my favorite version of ...more
Sara Saif
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

My fascination with fairytale retellings keeps growing and growing. For all intents and purposes, it should be the opposite. After all, what's the point of reading different versions of the same stories over and over again? Well, the answer is in the question. Reading the same story retold in a different way thrills me.

Dark Shimmer was one such thrilling retelling of Snow White. I cannot describe how glad I am to read this after Beast. Dark Shimmer was so fantastic, it thoroughly annihilated
Aug 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"what is the difference of illness and wickedness when it causes such evil?"

What a fascinating and well done re-telling (view spoiler) I spoiler that because I didn't know it was a re-telling (I"m awful and almost never ready synopsis and just pick up books on covers alone). And I loved not knowing until it all clicked into place and things got so obvious.

I love the fact that this story is actually probable. Not all the fairy tales feel like they could be rooted in
Feb 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
A dark version of Snow White told from the point of view of the "Queen."
Dolce grows up on an island thinking she is hideous and a giant. While there she learns the secret to making beautiful mirrors. When tragedy strikes and she leaves the island, she learns that she is normal, beautiful, and had been living with dwarfs. Marion, a widower and his daughter Bianca take Dolce in, treat her well, and Marion eventually marries her. To fit in with society, Dolce makes small mirrors for various women
Kelsie Halsted
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful take on an old fairy tale. From the Evil Queen's point of view, you'll see what it was like in her life, and how she came to hate Snow White to the point of wanting to kill her. Also, you get to see what really happened to her afterwards.
I would pick up this book and read it a million more times that's how great it was. I would also suggest this to anyone and everyone no matter what your age.
Deserves a better cover.
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, fairy-tale, 2017
I finished reading this book and said out loud: "Wow!"

I picked it up because I liked the title and the cover art. The synopsis made it sound like it was either about an insane woman or it was possibly a retelling of Snow White from the Evil Queen's perspective. It turned out to be both.

I don't want to say too much and spoil it, but even if you're not someone who enjoys retellings of famous fairy and folk tales, you will almost certainly find this book to be an amazing read. It takes place in
I felt like this had a lot of conflicting emotions and quite a few shaky transitions. Also, it was hard to get to know the MC Dolce; the writing just didn't really work. I don't know... Maybe it's me. I might give this another go someday.
Megan Emerson
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inventive retelling of Snow White.
Abby-Rose Margarida Sparrow
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kelsey McLane
This is an intriguing twist on Snow White that shows how the "Evil Queen" became so evil through the quicksilver she uses to make mirrors. I like that this story was realistic--the quicksilver, the poison, everything was believable--no fantasy, no magic. That actually makes the story more terrifying because something like this could potentially happen!
Sep 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ariel Chua
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's the Snow White retelling you didn't ask for, didn't expect, didn't see coming, but fell in love with anyway. I thought the plot intricate and rich, even though it could be slightly confusing at times. The protagonist (Dolce) was not one of my favourites, but I won't deny that she definitely had a well developed personality that made her a very real character.

This book took quite some time to get interesting, but the middle was well worth the struggle in the beginning. i thought the ending
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This title was the hardest book to get through. It started so slow, and in the middle when it finally somewhat grabbed me. The changing points of view began and ruined it for me. The part where Biancaneve raises was so rushed I had to reread it. The author must have been as bored of the book as I was. This book gets a generous two stars because of the decently written middle.
Also the summary on the book is nothing like how the first half of the book is and is debatably how the last half is. I
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erin Mendoza
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting fairy tale retelling. Especially because I didn't know it was a fairy tale retelling when I started.
Dottie Hill
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting take on The tale of Snow white. with the historical twist it was very enjoyable.
Amy Beal
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Was a interesting twist to a classic fairy tale. As much as you would like to hate Dolce for her wickedness some part of you feels sorry for her and understands her pain.
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked it but there was a few parts that I found kinda tedious and I didn't feel motivated to read.
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Napoli Donna Jo, Dark Shimmer, 386 pages, New York: Wendy Lamb Books, 2015, $17.00, Language:G (0 swears, 0,”f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

Dolce has grown up on a hidden island in a lagoon in Venice, Italy. She’s a giant living in a dwarf world and has been bullied by everyone except for her beloved mother. Dulce spends her time mastering the art of mirror making, but after tragedy strikes, she swims away and ends up on a island where people see her as beautiful. Marin, a widow and his
What an excellent refreshing book.
The Wicked step mother (Dulce)- Traditionally a hateful deceitful woman but in this version she starts as a strong young woman overcoming hardship, finding love, willing to sacrifice herself and her sanity to save others.
In the end it is her sacrificing, her skill, and her selflessness that leads to her decline in health and sanity. Even in her madness she still cares and loves- but its all twisted.
The mirror, the dwarves, the stag, and apple are all wonderfully
A few notes about my reading: but not a full review. I gave the book 3 stars only because, to me, in the first half of the story, I did not truly connect with Dolce, the main character. This story is a powerful recreation of the Snow White fairy tale.
A lovely thing about the tale is that, the reader does not get hit in the head with the association of the Snow White tale, reading it as a self recounted tale of a young woman, wrongfully persecuted as a monster, who finally encounters a man who
Saleena Davidson
Dark Shimmer was a delight. I had no idea that it was a twisted fairy tale until I was almost halfway through (so if you don't like those, try it won't even notice). For me, since I LOVE those, it was like finding a caramel center in a gooey chocolate delight.....sinfully good!
Dolce is the center of the tale (and eventually the villain); but she is ostracized in her village for being deformed (i.e. tall) and not until later do you realize that she grew up with Little People (as in
Historical fiction is always hit or miss for me. I often love the lush, descriptive writing and admire all the details and research that go into the novels, but I also tend to roll my eyes when the plot delves into "and the person Sarah encountered that day grew up to be Adolf Hitler" territory. However, a historical fiction retelling of Snow White that manages to incorporate all aspects of the original fairy tale in a way that justifies not only the actions of the evil stepmother, but does so ...more
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 out of 5 stars This is the first retelling books I have read. So basically this is a snow white retelling in the perspective of her stepmother. And Guess what? I am stunned! The author is brilliant. She is very inventive and this book is plot driven.

I really love how it focused in the story of the stepmother. It’s kinda refreshing to read stories like this! So much story building in stepmother’s characters, about her childhood, her struggles why she become wicked and mad. There’s just so
Sandy Schmidt
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dolce was always an outsider. Taller than her brothers, except for her mother,, she was considered a monster. When her mother died when Dolce was 15, Dolce had no one so she just swam as far as she could until her whole body ached. She was found on the beach by a little girl who quickly adopted her, took her home, and called her Mamma. The idyllic life turned tragic when Dolce continued her occupation in her palace - she made mirrors. This version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is ...more
Aug 14, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful retelling . In this book , we experience the retelling of Snow White . This story is told from the point of view of the stepmother . We see her grow from an innocent girl who is bullied and abused, to a lady of high society who only wants to belong , into the monster she becomes by the end of the book . This book is very well thought out . Its ideas are historically correct . And it is by far one of the best retellings I've ever read
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Donna Jo Napoli is both a linguist and a writer of children's and YA fiction. She loves to garden and bake bread, and even dreams of moving to the woods and becoming a naturalist.

At various times her house and yard have been filled with dogs, cats, birds, and rabbits. For thirteen years she had a cat named Taxi, and liked to go outside and call, "Taxi!" to make the neighbors wonder. But dear dear
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