Monday Special – Neil Gaiman’s “Snow White” Fanfiction

Hello, dear Patrons.  Lyle’s out today, so I’ve stepped in to gush about two amazing short stories based on “Snow White.”  I encountered one while working on the snark of “Poison” and immediately knew I had to contrast the two.

That story, along with the one I will discuss below, is by my most recent favorite author Neil Gaiman.  “Snow, Glass, Apples,” which I found in Gaiman’s short story collection Smoke and Mirrors, tells the story of “Snow White” from the perspective of the Evil Queen Stepmother – except that she’s not evil.  It takes all of the familiar story elements we know from “Snow White” – the stepmother, the banishment and cutting out her heart, dwarves, poison apples, a prince finding Snow White – and tells them with a twist without assuming we can fill in the parts the author doesn’t feel like telling.  It’s a well-crafted story that could stand on its own that at the same time really makes the reader stop and think about the familiar story it’s based on.  As Gaiman says in the story intro in Smoke and Mirrors:  “I like to think of this story as a virus.  Once you’ve read it, you may never be able to read the original story in the same way again.”  In a good way.

The other story, “The Sleeper and the Spindle,” was commissioned as fanfiction, more or less.  Gaiman chose two of his favorite fairy tales, “Snow White” and “Sleeping Beauty,” and imagined “[…] what would happen if two stories were happening at the same time?  And what if the women who were already the subjects of those stories had a little more to do, and were active and not passive … ?”  (From the story intro in Trigger Warning.)  Snow White has already reached her “happily ever after” and is about to marry the prince when she sets off to find the source of a mysterious epidemic of falling asleep.  At the center of it, she finds Sleeping Beauty, but she’s not quite who the reader expects.

This story just came out as an illustrated book by itself, and the samples I’ve seen of the artwork are gorgeous.  But that wouldn’t matter if the story weren’t so compelling to begin with.

Both of these stories show fanfiction at its best:  well-written stories that use familiar elements in interesting new ways.  I strongly suggest you check them out.

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