To celebrate the publication of Beauty last week, we thought we’d share with you one of our brilliant Gollancz Geeks reviews for Poison, Sarah Pinborough’s first book in the fairy tale trilogy. Poison is a retelling of Snow White, with an adult twist, and has been a real winner with the Geeks. This Friday’s ace review comes from Mel S, who runs a great review blog here, and you can follow her on Twitter.
One of the first stories we ever hear are fairy tales with charming princes rescuing the sweet naive Princess from evil stepmothers and magic enchantments so these classic tales get lodged in our collective consciences. And it was with both anticipation and trepidation that I approached this adult version of the children’s story of Snow White – the ‘true story’ as it was always meant to be.
Despite the small page count – just 200 pages, this is definitely an adult version with sex and swearing, but is still simply told, managing to capture the feel of classic fairy tales. Interestingly, despite being the story of Snow White, the tale is told mostly from the point of view of other characters – the wicked Stepmother, one of the dwarves and the handsome Prince and gives a very different interpretation of their roles and motivations from the simplified version. I particularly liked getting to know Lilith, the stepmother who managed to become three-dimensional character with her own issues and her descent into wickedness was an intriguing addition to the story. The prince also has a very different role from his usual handsome rescuer position. Yet, despite these twists many of the expected notes are included in the story from seven dwarves, the huntsman, the old crone with the apple and the magic mirror, but none happens exactly as you had expected.
Overall, Poison has a charisma and instinctive appeal that will stay with you long after you finish reading with the story of Snow White in your own mind subtly different from before. I loved the wider world Sarah Pinborough hints at behind Snow White’s story with hints and glimpses of other fairy stories. This gentle teasing has whetting appetite for Charm and Beauty, two more sexed up fairy tales from Sarah coming soon.
Recommended for fans of Neil Gaiman and Malinda Lo.
8 out of 10