Review: Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman (illust. Colleen Doran)

Lies and half-truths fall like snow, covering the things that I remember, the things I saw. A landscape, unrecognizable after a snowfall – that is what she has made of my life.
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (4.5/5)

What’s This Book About?

Genre: Fantasy (Snow White retelling)/Graphic novelisation

Publication: Aug 2019 (originally 1994)

Synopsis: Once upon a time, a not-so-Evil Queen was terrified of her monstrous, snow-white, blood-red stepdaughter.

Determined to repel this nightmarish creature, she takes measures into her own hands to save the kingdom from a world where ‘happily ever after’ is far from guaranteed…

A chilling, haunting retelling of the famous Snow-White fairytale, from the perspective of the ‘Evil Queen’.

What I Thought:

The artwork is incredible, a 10/10. The story is darkly horrific, quiet yet nonetheless chilling and foreboding in its unfolding. Definitely not a kid’s book is all I’m going to say regarding certain parts of it!

Photograph by @thebooklovingpanda

The story slid along and coated my mouth with unease – several times I was on the edge of nausea when disturbing undercurrents came to light: incest, patricide, necrophilia… I believe necrophilia and incest also appeared in Angela Carter’s The Snow-Child. The ending was certainly not the one I hoped for, though I don’t know why I had expected anything different. (Was I even paying attention? Shame on me.) Though the queen is far from ‘Evil’, there are several hints that neither is she ‘Good’. This I liked. Unfortunately I knew next to nothing of Snow White’s character, nor the Prince…and even the Queen narrated in quite a detached fashion. I’m in two minds about this. One one hand, I liked that the story was told without much visceral emotion, adding to the otherworldly quality of this retelling (which is only enhanced by the dramatic artwork), but on the other, I still wonder if this could have been expanded into a full-length novel with greater exploration into the two leading characters.

Returning to Doran’s artistic contribution, I was repeatedly astonished to find that every time I looked back over a page I’d already read, there was still more detail to be picked out. There did seem to be one or two isolated continuity issues between the original text and the artwork, but these were minor niggles. The way panels flowed around and into each other, in addition to the vibrant colouring, reminded me a great deal of stained-glass art, which the illustrator herself brings up in her ‘Artist’s Notes’ at the back. Sumptuous and intricate, this graphic novel was a treat for the eyes.

Preview from Dark Horse Comics

There were some parts of the text which I thought were quite misleading (or irrelevant, rather); I expected the information stated then to be far more significant than they really turned out to be. For example:

This was robbery in the eyes of the law. The deer were the queen’s.

There were also several references to ‘black filth’ dribbling down Snow White’s inner thighs when she has sex. Aside from how disturbing that is in itself, don’t those pieces of information sound like they should be important later on, for them to be mentioned in such a dramatic way? In a story as short as this one, and a graphic novel to boot, every line counts. (Is the wet black filth meant to have some sort of literary symbolism? If so, someone please enlighten me!)

Lured in by the cover (and Gaiman’s name), stayed for the dark Snow White retelling – no regrets, and I’d say worth a purchase if only so you can always look upon the artwork!

I shall think…of the snowflake on her cheek.
I think of her hair as black as coal –
– her lips, redder than blood –
– her skin, snow-white.

Thanks for reading! Let me know any thoughts below…

10 thoughts on “Review: Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman (illust. Colleen Doran)

  1. OH MY GODDD! I NEVER EVEN KNEW THIS BOOK EXISTED! 😱😱😱 What the FUCKK!? DARK + GROSS + EVIL 👿 I HAVE TO READ IT NOWWW! I am so so so thankful that you introduced this one to us all!! DAMN IT SOUNDS AMAZING!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had no idea about this book either until I saw it in a bookstore (though a leeetle pricey) and later in my library so I had no excuse not to bring it home! Hahahah I’m glad I could help, hope you like it when you read it

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  2. Wow, this looks and sounds incredible and deliciously creepy/morbid? That description of snow white and the black filth though. That sounds a little nauseating but I know that Gaiman always creates such vivid descriptions and portrayals of characters and things that happen to/with them. I’m definitely going to go out and purchase this now because I needed this graphic novel in my life like yesterday? I love Gaiman and this review! 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Deliciously creepy/morbid is spot on. Same with the black filth, I remember I grimaced while reading that part hahaha – very true, Gaiman is an amazing author. I’m so glad you enjoyed this review and I hope you’ll love the book!

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  3. Hmmmm WOW! It LOOKS fabulous! I will admit to loving pretty things especially bookish ones! I don’t always enjoy Neil Gaiman and I will admit that some of the imagery you mentioned is really gross. It’s definitely a darker snow white retelling which makes it doubly temping. I will have to see if my library has it. Thanks for sharing it. ❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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