From Goodreads.com: Snow White and Rose Red live on the edge of the forest that conceals the elusive border of Faerie. They know enough about Faerie lands and mortal magic to be concerned when they find two human sorcerers setting spells near the border. And when the kindly, intelligent black bear wanders into their cottage some months later, they realize the connection between his plight and the sorcery they saw in the forest. This romantic version of the classic fairy tale features an updated introduction by its editor, Terri Windling.
Why I Chose It: I love the retelling of fairy tales, so I scooped this from the library to check it out.
The Review: So I definitely expected this novel to be a creative combination of the two fairy tales that I know quite well – Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. To my surprise, Snow White and Rose Red is an entirely different fairy tale with German origins. This was actually really cool, because it gave me the opportunity to find out about a new fairy tale!
At the beginning of the novel, I was a bit confused, simply because I didn’t know the basis of the story. This is where the book actually does something really cool: at the beginning of each chapter is an excerpt from the original fairy tale. These were usually only a few sentences long, but I really liked that I was able to simultaneously learn the original while reading Wrede’s interpretation. I was able to directly compare elements from the tale to the novel, and see which parts were kept the same or expanded, and which parts Wrede changed. I thought this was a really nice touch to the book.
The story itself was entertaining. It involves a talking bear, silly sorcerers who can’t keep a spell straight, an angry faerie mother, and two young women who discover their mother is a witch. There was enough elements in the book that it remained interesting, but not so man that it felt overloaded. Wrede does a very good job of following multiple characters along different subplots, and I was actually surprised that I liked all of the characters. Plus, I really liked the two sisters – whose names are actually Blanche and Rosamund. They were opposites, one being reserved and the other much more playful and lively, but I liked that they weren’t completely opposites – they still had enough similarities between them and shared a sisterly connection that I really appreciated.
The one surprising element was the bits of actual history that Wrede slips into the book. It’s written during the time of Queen Elizabeth I, and Wrede slips several names and personalities that are well known from that time period. I definitely thought it was an interesting take on the book – especially considering this fairy tale comes from Germany and not England. I’m not sure that it was entirely necessary, but definitely interesting.
I did have one major complaint about the book, unfortunately, and that’s the language. Because it’s placed in the Elizabethan era, the characters are speaking the language of the time. This wouldn’t have been a problem, but for me it was not consistent at all. Sometimes the characters were speaking that English, but the descriptions in the book were definitely in today’s English, and it would cause me to trip over the words when I transitioned from dialogue to description. I also felt that the language wasn’t consistent over the characters – some were speaking with heaver Elizabethan English than others. This may have been done on purpose, or this may have just been me, but I really felt like the language was interrupting the flow of my reading, which is not a feeling I generally enjoy.
Despite the language, Rose Red and Snow White was a fun read. This books does not have a complicated story, and I found it light, playful and entertaining. While parts were a bit predictable, I still enjoyed watching events play out. It was kind of like reading a novel of a Disney movie – the same upbeat feeling but without the music. ;) If you’re looking for an easy and fast summer read involving fairy tales, then check this one out. :)
Rating: 3 / 5