You may have heard rumblings around the interwebs about the Seven Magic Mirrors multi-author-and-book-release party?
Well, if you haven’t then you’re in for a treat. Starting YESTERDAY, seven lovely and unique retellings of Snow White are being released into the wilds for your reading pleasure! Over the next few days, I will be reviewing four of those seven stories. I really wanted to sign up for all seven, but… to read and review that many books — even short ones — was quite impossible in such a short time. Even four was probably a bit more than I should have signed up for, BUT I’d already read three of the four as a beta-reader or judge for the Five Poisoned Apples contest… so I figured semi-re-reads would probably go faster. And the stories are novellas, as opposed to full-fledged novel-length books, so that helps, as well.
What are the Magic Mirrors?
The Magic Mirrors are seven retellings of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by six different authors, each unique in tone, setting, and moral. From the light hearted and twisted to dark reimagining to futuristic mashups to non-magical historical fiction, this collection has something in it for every reader.
Anyway… on to today’s featured Snow White retelling: The Princess and the Invisible Apple Tree by Meredith Leigh Burton.
Princess Snowdrop didn’t mean to murder her mother, but she believes she that the apple tart she got from a rosy-cheeked peddler with a beautiful voice was the cause of her dear mother’s death. In grief, her father leaves the palace, only to return home a year later with a new wife and stepdaughter. Snowdrop is horrified by this strange turn of events. But when Rachel, her new sister, reveals that she owns a magic mirror that was given to her by a peddler who sounds very similar to the one with the tart, Snowdrop is more determined than ever to find out what really happened and how she and Rachel could have been linked long before they ever met.
Seven things I love about this story (because seven stories, seven dwarfs… get it?)
1. I love the complexity of this story. There is so much going on, and I almost wish the story were twice as long so that I could really just savor the various plot twists and surprise reveals.
2. I love that the stepmother isn’t evil. Barbara has some skeletons in her closet, and she trusted the wrong person, but she is not the jealous queen or the villain of this story, and I liked that. She is desperate and has been forced to do some terrible things to survive, but though her first aim is to protect her daughter, she is unwilling to sacrifice Snowdrop in order to attain that goal.
3. I love that the author did not shy away from putting some darker elements into the story, and I love how delicately she handled those elements. Without ever saying the words, this story carefully explores the difficult decisions Barbara has to make when trying to provide for herself and her daughter after her husband dies. It also deals with the theme of vanity from a whole different angle, as Barbara and her daughter struggle with self-esteem about their images and the sacrifices they think they have to make in order to hold onto their beauty.
4. The sister element. I really loved how Ms. Burton wove in a beautiful sister story into this tale. Snow White didn’t originally have a sister of any kind, and it would have been easy to make the stepsister the villain, but that isn’t where she chose to go with this story, and I think the entire plot was stronger for that decision. There is darkness in both girls’ pasts, but that darkness does not define them.
5. Snowdrop. I have a confession to make. Snow White is not my favorite fairy tale. Before agreeing to judge the last Rooglewood fairy tale contest, I probably would have told you that Snow White is my LEAST favorite fairy tale. I think this is mostly because of the Disney version… that annoying voice… shudder. But in reading 27 retellings of this story, I have learned that there is a wide variety of different lessons and viewpoints to be seen in this story I always kind of dismissed as being pretty boring and straight-forward. So, when I tell you that I really like the Snow White character in this story, you know she has to be impressive. Snowdrop is thoughtful, kind, and unassuming. She is beautiful, but she is one of those people who just sort of barely acknowledges her own beauty. It is never one of her own considerations, though others notice it. Her regrets torment her, and she has a temper that flares quickly, but it dies down just as swiftly and she is quick to make amends if she can.
6. Rachel. Rachel’s story is more complex and perhaps the more heart-wrenching one, and she is definitely the sister I felt more drawn to. She’s the kind of character you just want to reach into the story for and give a big hug, because she needs one.
7. The romance between Lawrence and Barbara (the king and stepmother). Their story is quieter and more in the background of the book, but the glimpses that we do get of it are simply beautiful. It is such a sweet, redemptive sort of love story, and y’all know I’ve got a soft spot for redemption stories!
I loved quite a few other things about this story, but to mention them would be to give away far too many spoilers. So instead, I’m just going to recommend that you go grab a copy of this book and read it for yourself!
Make sure you don’t miss any of the stops on this magical tour!
Five Dragon Eggs