{Guest Post} "SNOW WHITE AND ROSE RED: My Memories of the Faerie Tale" with guest poster W.Memes

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My Memories of the Faerie Tale
by W. Memes

Plot of the Faerie Tale: 
(Check out the full story at Sur La Lune)!)

Snow White and Rose Red is a lesser known story collected by the Brothers Grimm. Snow White and Rose Red is not a mash up of the faerie tales Snow White or Red Riding Hood. When I was younger, I’d believed that the two had become sisters in some wonderful faerie tale and eagerly read the story. How wrong I was!

There are no witches, wolves, or poisoned apples and in their place was a widow, bear, and mayhaps a little berry-picking. Rather than seven dwarves, we had only one and he was evil at that! Still, there was a prince that was under a spell (similar to Beauty and the Beast). There was also a lesson that seemed to tell me that there are those who will remain ungrateful no matter how much you help them and that a bear will eventually kill them for being so rude (I joke).

However, like in all faerie tales, I wondered where the prince had come from, what he was like before the spell was cast on him, and who in the world was this brother that was conveniently matched to Rose Red? (Although, I’ll confess the latter thought stream was more of my own thoughts in adulthood than in my youth).

My Review (No Spoilers)

After reading Wrede’s later works (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, MAGICIAN'S WARD, Sorcery and Cecilia, the Lyra series), I was unsure what her approach to this faerie tale would be, humorous or serious. I briefly wondered whether I’d instantly fall in love with it and turn pages as quickly as possible or slog through it slowly and force myself to finish reading. The answer? It was a slow start for the first few chapters, but as we spent more time with each character, I felt more invested in the story. However, this did not change much of my reluctance to hurry along my read through the novel.

I did enjoy the refreshing take on the faerie tale by the use of this time period. The added machinations of those in Faerie court and mortal greed for power gave lifting the enchantment a better sense of urgency versus the need to protect gold and jewels. Now, although the Elizabethan era was an interesting setting, it was difficult settling into the novel because of the smatterings of the Elizabethan language (thees/thous) that seemed misplaced in her narrative, even knowing the time period.

As was my wish, we were introduced to the major players in the faerie tale and given more background information other characters found in the original faerie tale. Rosamund (Rose Red) is described as the more adventurous of the two sisters, while Blanche (Snow White) is content to remain at home, but enjoys her sister’s company and will join her outside. With their mother, the Widow Arden, they live in a cottage at the cusp of a forest that borders Faerie. We do not often see Rosamund and Blanche apart and their personalities seem rather mixed during some points in the novel.

Although the sisters are the supposed main characters (re: title of the novel), we follow several perspectives (including their mother, John – the fae prince, the astrologer Doctor Dee and his companion Edward Kelly, the Faerie conspirators, and the young ladies themselves). This does give us more insight into the present happenings in all parts of the story, but seems to sacrifice the reader’s interest in Rosamund and Blanche. I found myself wanting to get to John’s scenes more than the girls’. Perhaps if the central characters had been more engaging dialogue or scenes, my view on Rosamund and Blanche would not be so blasé. There also seemed to be a number of throw away characters or scenes that may add to the time period setting, but added nothing more to the story than a moment of rest from what was going on in the central plot.

If you’re a fan of Wrede’s more light-hearted works (especially the Enchanted Forest Chronicles) this is quite different in tone and style, so may not be your cup of tea. For an adaptation of a faerie tale, it is a decent read and took a fairly bare bones tale, fleshed it out while adding an interesting setting for the novel. I may give this one another read to give it another shot, but it won’t be in the near future.

Here are the first few pages of SNOW WHITE AND ROSE RED, as read by W. Memes. 

Disclaimer: Words and names are more than likely mispronounced. Hit play if you dare!

From Publishers Weekly
(excerpt from Amazon)

Wrede's ( CAUGHT IN CRYSTAL ) romantic and charming retelling of the Brothers Grimm tale is the fourth in this series. In the village of Mortlak, near the river Thames, during the reign of Elizabeth I, live the Widow Arden and her two daughters, Blanche and Rosamund. The widow, who supports her family by selling herbs and making healing potions, lives in fear of being accused of witchcraft. Her daughters gather the herbs she needs, sometimes crossing into the realm of Faerie, one of whose borders lies in the forest nearby.

Also residing in Mortlak is the real-life Doctor Dee, astrologer to the Queen, who with his friend Edward Kelly seeks to harness the magic of Faerie. Their efforts turn Hugh, one of the half-human sons of the queen of Faerie, into a bear. With the aid of the widow and her daughters, John, the elder Faerie prince, tries to disenchant his brother, who has crossed over to the mortal world. John is initially thwarted in his efforts by Madini, head of a faction in Faerie that seeks complete separation from the mortal domain. In putting her twist on the classic tale, Wrede uses language appropriate to the period and nicely evokes both medieval England and a magic land. 

Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Author: Patricia C. Wrede
 Publication date: April 28, 1989
Publisher: Tor Books

Snow White and Rose Red live on the edge of the forest that conceals the elusive border of Faerie. They know enough about Faerie lands and mortal magic to be concerned when they find two human sorcerers setting spells near the border. 
And when the kindly, intelligent black bear wanders into their cottage some months later, they realize the connection between his plight and the sorcery they saw in the forest. 

This romantic version of the classic fairy tale features an updated introduction by its editor, Terri Windling.


  1. Snow White and Rose Red is one of my favorite Grimm fairy tales. I'm going to read a retelling, Tender Morsels soon. I will have to check this one out also.

    1. Hi Rachael! :) It's a great tale and I'm glad there's someone else out there who likes it. I'll have to put Tender Morsels' retelling on my to-be-read list!

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