Book Review: Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

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I chose this book because it appealed to my whimsical nature.  Snow White was the first Disney movie I ever saw, in the theater, for it’s re-release.  I now have my own daughter, and she loves the Disney Princesses, although her fav is Belle.  Snow White was always my favorite princess until I discovered Princess Leia.  I do have to point out that I know absolutely nothing about where these fairy tales come from.  Outside of the sanitized Disney versions, I haven’t read any literature about the origins of these stories.  Now I want to.

Despite my very eclectic tastes in reading, I am always a sucker for the “happily ever after”.  Always have, always will be.  But I understand that “happily ever after” can have different meanings.  That was one of the things that drew me to this book.

Here is the synopsis:

What happens when “happily ever after” has come and gone?
On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven’s wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven’s fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White’s own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing:
The king is dead.
The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.
It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what “happily ever after” really means?
Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White.
There were so many things I like about this book.  First being the writing style.  Very fitting of a book about a fairy tale, the writing is very elegant and proper without being nauseating.  For example, when describing Snow White’s throne room in comparison to the rest of the castle that is preparing for the wedding, Mr. Meredith writes:
The cavernous chamber appeared a bleak island of melancholy set adrift upon a sunny, celebratory sea.
The writing helps to transport the reader to the castle, to Snow White’s side, through the visions she sees through the mirror.  The writing also helps define the depth to her suffering:
Snow White had said she wanted to be alone, but that was not really true.  She simply was alone, whether there were any other people about to witness it or not.  now that she was by herself in the large room however, the queen was not at all sure what to do next.This of course was her regular dilemma.  It seemed difficult to do anything anymore but sit around feeling miserable and sad.
That is pretty much depression in a nutshell, whether it stems from grief or from illness.  Well done.
I love the use of the magic mirror to prompt Snow White to examine her life.  This is usually what is done in therapy, but being that therapists weren’t around in that time period and that cures for things pertaining to mental illness probably involved using leeches, I guess a magic mirror would have to do.  Here the mirror describes his role succinctly:
I simply do that which mirrors do.  You look in.  I show you a reflection of yourself- Nothing more.  Your stepmother thought herself beautiful, but I showed her the ugliness that dwelt in her heart as well.  She asked me then who there was more beautiful that she and again I showed her.  Some people are frightened of their own reflection, I’ve found.  They do not want to examine themselves too closely, for fear of what they will see – For fear of what others might discover.
Through the mirror, Snow White sees several events from her past, ranging from her stepmother’s abuse to her life with Charming.  Some of the events are terribly traumatic.  Some of them are very tender and emotional.  All of them serve a purpose as the mirror again counsels:
You know there is no forgetting, not really.  What happens, happens.  The past is the past and your past is ever a part of you!  Only by facing it can you truly leave it behind.  Otherwise, it will ever intrude upon your present..
I have found this especially true in my own personal life and my issues with domestic violence.  Leave it to a magic mirror to put it so plainly.
That noted, there are elements of abuse, especially surrounding her stepmother’s treatment of her.  It may trigger.  That was one thing I remember from all the Disney movies.  The absolute cruelty of the stepmothers featured.  I think that is why I refused to be referred to as a “stepmother” to this day.  I would rather my bonus son call me by my first name than his “stepmother”.  Thanks, fairy tales!!
This book is also not rated G.  It is not rated X either, but Snow White and Charming do get it on….in detail.  That was kind of refreshing.  For two reasons 1) it is a departure from the sanitized Disney versions of the fairy tales we have been force fed for the past 70 years. Yes, I know they are for children, but you rarely ever see the characters kiss…and in the next frame they get married?  And 2) these scenes were written by a man and they are very tender and not gratuitous.  Not something you associate with a man writing a sex scene.  Especially the one featuring the night of their wedding night.  Good job!!
It is a very short read and is well worth the $1.99 it is going for right now on amazon.
I really enjoyed this book.  Immensely.  It captured my imagination.  It spoke to that little girl in me who loved fairy tales but is now grown up and is now aware of the issues that face adults.  Excellent concept, excellent execution.  Highly recommended.
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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Harliqueen
    Mar 03, 2014 @ 07:56:37

    This sounds like a great book, definitely will have to pick up a copy.

    Reply

    • Mommabel
      Mar 04, 2014 @ 09:48:43

      It really is a good read. Definitely fulfilled my “take me away to another dimension” requirement as well as made me think. A really unique take on something that has been done to death, especially if you have a little girl who is into princesses…

      Reply

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