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White As Snow (Fairy Tales) Paperback – December 7, 2001

3.4 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

After a hiatus of some years, the Fairy Tale series of novels by various authors, edited by Terri Windling, has made a welcome return. The first post-hiatus book is fantasist extraordinaire Tanith Lee's White as Snow, a retelling of Snow White darkly intertwined with the myth of Demeter and Persephone. If you're familiar with both Lee, winner of the August Derleth Award and several World Fantasy Awards, and Windling, also winner of several World Fantasy Awards, and the premier fantasy editor of modern times, then you would expect White as Snow to be a terrific novel. And you would be right.

In an alternate-history medieval Europe, the noble maiden Arpazia, raised in an isolated castle, finds herself the captive of the conquering general-king Draco. The only remnant of her former life is an exotic glass mirror possessed of witchy powers. She feels no connection to Coira, daughter of her forced marriage to the brutal Draco. She becomes the lover of a woodsman, Klytemno, who embodies the divine Hunter King in pagan rituals. Then Klytemno requires her to send her black-haired, snow-pale daughter Coira into the woods as a sacrifice.... --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Horror and fantasy veteran Lee, author of such adult fairy tale collections as Red as Blood and Forests of the Night, offers an enticingly dark and seductive reworking of "Snow White" that echoes the macabre ambience of the Brothers Grimm. Drawing on the sex and violence implicit in the original fairy tale, Lee gives a modern, introspective angle to the classic story. The evil queen, Arpazia, first appears as an innocent princess of 14, who is terrified when Draco, a rising new leader, conquers her father's castle and rapes her. Soon after he has her sister, Lilca, hanged because Lilca betrayed the castle. Draco forces Arpazia to travel with him and his barbaric army. She later bears him a girl, Candacis, whom she immediately shuns as an incarnation of evil, mumbling death spells as the infant tries to suckle her. Lee casts the evil queen in a sympathetic light, depicting her as a tortured soul who in later years begins to question her dark fate. With its melancholy shading, Lee's new twist on an old tale is sure to engage fans of dark fantasy. (Dec. 7)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Fairy Tales
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (December 7, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312875495
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312875497
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #692,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Leigh Deacon on October 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Tanith Lee proved herself a master of gorgeous prose many years ago; having enjoyed the short re-tellings presented in her collection Red as Blood: Tales From the Sisters Grimmer, I was thrilled to see a full-length novel based on Snow White.
Indeed, there are elements from the classic folk tale in White As Snow: the mirror (although rather un-magical in this novel), the dwarves, the flight to safety from the Queen...however, as a top reviewer mentioned, the novel is overflowing with metaphor and symbolism, some fairly accessible to the average reader and some obscure. In my opinion, Lee tries to dip her pen into too many inkpots in this novel - Greek mythology, Catholic doctrine, and God-Goddess rituals. Despite the help of a competent forward by Terri Windling, I think the general reader will be left confused by the numerous metapors, and ultimately indifferent.
If you're the type who loves digging into every reference in T.S. Eliot's Wasteland, you won't mind the overload of images from different cultures, times and lands. What I think no reader will enjoy, however, are the characters in this work. I don't think there is a likable one in the lot. Our two females, mother and daughter, are both self-deprecating and exceptionally arrogant at the same time, so depressed and disinterested (apparently) with humanity in general that you just wish they would go away. They mope more than anything else. It is hard to muster sympathy for them or become invested in their fictional lives. I found I did not much care what happened to them at story's end.
It's a tough read, not for the faint of heart. Pondering the numerous metaphors and symbols (especialy the symbolism of the mirror, I'd add) may be very rewarding for some and provide good discussion amongst readers. But if you're looking for a more old-fashioned tale - and by this I mean a story with strong protagonists, antagonists, and compelling plot line - you'd best look elsewhere.
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Format: Hardcover
I have to admit, I didn't enjoy this book =quite= as much as I'd hoped I would, but I still found it profoundly moving and thought-provoking -- even a work that isn't Lee's best is still pretty darn wonderful. Neither "Snow White" nor her mother are particularly "likable" characters, and yet you do feel for them in your bones even as you question their actions and emotions. The only pitfall is that Arpazia and Coira are so incredibly emotionally detached from the world around them, it creates a sense of detachment in the reader -- but nothing that will really keep you from enjoying this poetic, beautifully written book. Nothing is simple in this tale; it is as twisted and murky as the black wood. The way the classic fairy tale entwines with the Demeter/Persephone myth is novel and well crafted. If you're looking for an offbeat, challenging, emotionally wrenching rendition of the Snow White tale, I definitely recommend this work.
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Format: Hardcover
A maiden is kidnapped...a mother searches for her, disguised as an old beggar woman...a deadly fruit is eaten...the maiden dies but not necessarily for good...
Note that I could either be talking about the ancient tale of Demeter and Persephone, or about the fairy tale "Snow White." Tanith Lee weaves the two together masterfully in her novel, "White as Snow." As I read it, I kept reading a scene and then thinking, "Hey, WAIT a minute, that was the part where Demeter tries to make the little kid immortal", and so forth. It just fit incredibly well; the book followed both the myth and the fairy tale, making me realize just how much symbolism the two stories had in common in the first place. It is a testament to Lee's skill that after reading the book, I began to seriously wonder whether the fairy tale truly *is* a corrupted version of the myth, distorted through centuries. Whether there is any real connection, the world may never know--but Lee makes us believe there is.
And as I write this, I remember that in ancient times Demeter was associated with the mirror.
I deducted one star because I had trouble sympathizing with the characters; they seem emotionally cold throughout much of the book. It makes sense, given their traumatic pasts, but it doesn't make it any easier to relate to them.
Still, four solid stars for a richly archetypal neo-myth.
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Format: Hardcover
First, I am happy to see the Faery Tale series by Terri Windling back in publication. I was sad to see it disappear years ago. I hope to see more in the series soon!
Like Terri Windling's series, I am always excited when I see a new Tanith Lee novel. I had just finished reading Wolf Tower (which is a wonderful book) and saw White as Snow was due out soon...I waited with much anticipation for the book's arrival and I am happy to say I wan't disappointed by Tanith Lee's retelling of Snow White. This is one of her many reworkings of this particular fairy tale, but what makes this one different is that it is also a powerful and ingenious parallel of the Persephone/Demeter myth. As usual, Lee's prose is gorgeous and the story is challenging and unpredictable. There are a lot of layers to this novel and it deserves to be read and reread so that one can savor the imagery and emotion that this book builds. I particularly liked the dark psychology of the book--the war between mother and daughter, the war fought within oneself, the war between the sexes...everything resonates in this book and scenes continue to echo in my mind. This book belongs on the shelf next to Deerskin,by Robin McKinley and The Armless Maiden, an anthology by Terri Windling, for it is a powerful novel dealing with the more common, darker emotions of humanity.
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