Fiction: Patricia C. Wrede

Snow White and Rose Red


Patricia C. Wrede
1989

This was an interesting book. It took the fairy tale "Snow White and Rose Red" (specifically the Grimms' version) and novelised it in an English Elizabethan setting. The descriptions (especially of the forest) were wonderful and in general the writing was smooth and enjoyable to read. The problems arose with the somewhat awkwardly formal dialogue and the lack of depth in many of the characters. Fairy tales usually have fairly flat characters, but it is frustrating in a novel. While some of the secondary characters the author invented had personality, it was hard to see past the strict stereotypes that Blanche and Rosamund stay firmly within. I could always predict what they would do or feel before the author described it, which was frustrating.

That said, the story was fairly interesting. While her adaptation lost some of the meaning and focus of the fairy tale, the story was intricate and interesting to read. The inclusion of the fairies was interesting as well as the strong undercurrent of fear of witchcraft. The various types of characters worked well within the story together with their various motivations and abilities. The only disconcerting part of the plot was the distressing lack of constancy in the rules. I was never quite sure what was possible for any given character at any given moment because they never stuck to one set of rules for what they could or could not achieve by their magic. It was enjoyable to read overall, however.

This was an entertaining book to read, but I would only really recommend it if you have a strong interest in novelization of fairy tales. Otherwise there are much better fantasy novels out there.