This is a guest post by Raz Greenberg.
“Snow, Glass, Apples” is a 1994 short fantasy story by Neil Gaiman. It tells the all-too familiar fairy tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves from a fresh perspective – that of the Snow White’s stepmother.
Once Upon a Time…
…there was a beautiful woman, who was fortunate enough to win the love of a king. What she didn’t realize was that her new royal life will soon pit her against the king’s monstrous daughter.
Non-spoiler Summary in a Nutshell
Events unfold in a flashback, with Snow White’s stepmother recounting her story, starting with her first meeting with the king. We learn a bit about her background, and her practice of magical arts is given some context. All the familiar elements from the original fairy-tale – the dwarves, the prince, the kiss – appear in the story, with a dark and disturbing twist.
My Two Cents
This is my favorite Gaiman story. As with all of Gaiman’s work, it demonstrates not only his deep knowledge of folklore and legends, but also his understanding of what makes them work. Today, the most familiar version of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” is probably the Disney feature; though this version actually had its share of darkness as well, it is mostly remembered for the cheerful singing dwarves who branded the fairy tale as some sort of “family entertainment” for generations to come. In “Snow, Glass, Apples”, Gaiman appears to go against this approach, but in fact takes the fairy-tale back to its original, darker roots. At its core, this is a horror story of best kind: the kind that makes its readers shiver whenever another terrible thing happens, and yet they just can’t stop reading it. The traditional beginning-middle-end story structure – somewhat atypical of Gaiman’s writing – provides the story with a solid narrative backbone that works well in both keeping the readers fascinated and preserving the fairy tale atmosphere.
Interesting Tidbits About This Story:
- Word Count: 5035
- In Israel, where I live, the story was first published (translated to Hebrew) in The Tenth Dimension – the former magazine of the Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy. The issue in which the story appeared had an amazingly cool cover illustration by Avi Katz, later also used as the cover for the Hebrew edition of Gaiman’s anthology Smoke and Mirrors. You can see it here.
Where You Can Read It:
- It is included in Gaiman’s anthology Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions.
- It is also available at the blog The Dreaming, devoted to Gaiman’s works.
Thanks to Raz for this awesome review! Be sure to check out my review of his story: Happy Birthday, Niatti by Raz Greenberg