Fairy tales and I go way back. How far back? Pretty dang far. When I picked up my first fairy tale retelling (PRINCESS OF THE MIDNIGHT BALL by Jessica Day George and THE BEAUTIFUL PRETENDER by Melanie Dickerson), I’d no idea just how much this genre would, well, get me. Not only that, but retellings can be written for any age group, not just Middle Grade or Young Adult.
Hi. My name’s Leigh. I’m a thirty-five year old woman who absolutely loves a good fairy tale.
They don’t need to be high fantasy. Always full of action. Or even have the “typical” heroine.
So long as they have great plots, writing, and an ending wrapped up in a neat little package, I’m happy.
Tall order, right?
So with all the fairy tale reimaginings I’ve read over the years, I think I can loosely call myself an expert on the subject matter. Heaven knows I don’t know all the fairy tales, nor all the versions of them that are out there. But I thought I’d try a different kind of book review, comparing SNOW WHITE by KM Shea with the newly released BEGUILED by Jody Hedlund.
I already read Shea’s version some time ago, but found myself reading her whole series again. Hence the idea for this post. I’ve also read other series by Hedlund. As such, I’m greatly familiar with both authors’ works and writing styles.
DISCLAIMER: This review will contain spoilers, so if you don’t want anything ruined before you read either, I hope you’ll check out my October Bookviews post instead.
⟡ The Cast ⟡
The Seven Warriors
Pearl’s band of Outcasts
Let’s start with a quick recap of each book’s core group of characters. First, there’s the portrayal of Snow White. Many elements are kept in terms of her description – milky skin white as snow, dark hair, red lips. That’s where the similarities end. Shea’s Snow White’s journey is very different from that of Pearl’s, but they both learn valuable lessons along the way.
Side note: Shea’s is Book 11 in the Timeless Fairy Tales Series, but it can be read as a standalone story. Hedlund’s version is Book 2 in a three part series which should really be read in order.
SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER! I did warn you these would be everywhere, did I not? Let’s just cut to the chase – Fritz and Mikkel are each our protagonists’ eventual love interests. I really did enjoy both their unconventional approaches to these characters. Trust goes both ways, but who needs to learn it from whom? I’ll let you read to figure that part out.
Now for the dwarves. I was pleasantly relieved neither had them. No offense to dwarves, of course! I’m positive Gimli from THE LORD OF THE RINGS would have something to say about that! But each princess has her own band of misfits – some more so than others – to help her along her journey. I found Shea’s interpretation in the Seven Warriors more endearing than Hedlund’s band of outcasts. While Shea’s cast worked in harmony, Hedlund created a leader for Pearl’s band I just couldn’t come to like. Perhaps there’s a reason for that?
Both Angel and Ruby have integral roles to play, though at first it may not seem like they do. As I read Shea’s other books in the series, I had a theory early on as to who Angel actually was. If you haven’t read any of it, then you’re in for a big surprise. The twist from Hedlund’s version is that Pearl has a sister, Ruby. When was the last time you read a Snow White story where she had sibling(s)?
Finally we come upon the mothers. One has an actual mother. The other, the classic “stepmother.” No spoilers here as to which plot includes which version of a mother.
⟡ The Elements ⟡
Point of Views
Point of Views
In Shea’s version, Snow White is eventually dressed in an outfit similar to one in Disney’s remake. At least, that’s how I pictured it. The colors are all there. But Pearl from Hedlund’s BEGUILED doesn’t dress anything like Disney’s version. In fact, she looks the complete opposite for reasons. Is Pearl’s outfit representative of how she has to live to survive?
The classic apple. I remember as a child not wanting to eat apples after seeing Disney’s version. But then I couldn’t eat them for the next couple of years due to my braces. That’s a story for another day. Ah yes, the classic apple. An apple is used in Shea’s version; I wonder if the color of Pearl’s dress on Hedlund’s cover is merely symbolic of a red red apple.
Any time a book surpasses three character point of views I have difficulty finishing it. When a book has so many POVs that jump around seemingly willy-nilly, that’s when I put the book down. Thankfully, both of these stories fewer than four POVs, with one starting off in a very surprising way.
Finally for this section, we come upon Angel and Ruby yet again. Why do I include them twice? Because they’re that important. For Snow White, Angel (the mysterious yet sometimes annoying Angel) eventually becomes a dear friend. As Ruby is Pearl’s sister, one of Pearl’s main goals is to rescue her and never look back.
⟡ Overall Thoughts ⟡
Shea’s Version: published in 2018 with more magical creatures than one can count, seven “regular” sized men (all with vastly different personalities), a huntsman, sweet romance, and connection to the series’ previous ten books. I really appreciated the continuation of the overall fair tale arc
Hedlund’s Version: published in 2020 with a very different “Snow,” her actual mother isn’t dead, she has a sister, and our heroine is both calculating and thoughtful (rather than completely innocent and unaware of how the world works.
Every country – nay, every generation – has their own versions of these ancient tales. The “retelling scene” has exploded over the past ten years with many authors putting new spins on the classics. Snow White is no exception. If you’re looking for one a bit more lighthearted with a cacophony of magical creatures, then you’d like KM Shea’s SNOW WHITE. If you’re looking for a bit of a different tale with some darker themes, then you’re gonna want to read BEGUILED by Jody Hedlund.
Which do I like better? Shea’s for nostalgia (as I’ve read it at least thrice before), but Hedlund’s for her unexpected twists.
As of Sunday, November 1st, 2020, both are available on Kindle Unlimited
KM Shea’s Links
Jody Hedlund’s Links
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