Fairest of Them All?
Book Review: Snow White and the Huntsman by, Lily Blake
By, Donna M. Monnig
The novel, Snow White and the Huntsman, by Lily Blake is based off the recent motion picture of the same name.
The evil Queen’s power comes from sacrificing the fairest maidens: “Snow White looked at the ground. ‘She takes from all the young women in the kingdom. She steals their youth and beauty… I’ve seen what happens to them.’” Queen Ravenna’s power can only be undone by the fairest maiden of them all. Meaning that instead of Prince Charming saving the day, it has to be Snow White.
While much darker than the contemporary tale of Snow White, this version is nonetheless interesting. Much like the evil Queen, the book is fair, but it is not the fairest of them all.
The problem is the speed in which the story is told. It jumps from one scene to the next so fast that it’s difficult to know where one begins and the other ends.
It’s also missing crucial details, such as, why did the king’s men attack the gypsy village in the first place? How did young Ravenna come to create/possess her shadow army? Who orchestrated Snow White’s escape from the evil Queen Ravenna? Who sent the magpies to lead Snow White on the right path to the horse waiting to carry her away? These are some fairly large holes in the plot.
Also, the poisoned apple – one of the most iconic parts of any Snow White tale – barely played any role at all. When it did finally come into play there was no explanation for what it did to Snow White, forcing the reader to rely on prior knowledge of the fairy tale to understand what was happening.
The dwarves, while present, were also in short supply. The story simply moves too fast.
Its faults aside, Snow White and the Huntsman did have its merits. The huntsman, Eric, was hard not to like despite the fact that everyone regarded him as a detestable drunkard.
“He [Eric] was feeling utterly useless these days. There were cows that were more productive than he was. If the Queen needed someone’s help, it couldn’t be his.”
Snow White learning how to fight instead of relying on a prince to save her was also a plus.
The layout and design of the book gives it a fairy tale feel, as well as the poem at the beginning,
“Who will you be
when faced with the end?
The end of a kingdom.
The end of good men…
When the vultures are circling
and the shadows descend.
Will you cower?
Will you fight?
Is your heart made of glass?
Or a pure Snow White?”
Snow White and the Huntsman is a fresh take on an old tale. Many things in the story differ from the average Snow White story, making it interesting. The book had great potential, but like the evil Queen Ravenna, falls short of being the fairest of them all.
(Originally published in the December 2012 issue of The Greyhound Express.)
(Note: The pictures are from the film, not the book.)
What do you think about this version of Snow White?