Filed under: Story Sundays | Tags: fairy tales, lit, neil gaiman, reading, short stories, snow white, story sundays, vampires
Story Sundays is a weekly feature at Fat Books & Thin Women. Always short stories, always ones available online for free.
Neil Gaiman’s “Snow, Glass, Apples” could be the centerpiece of a course on how to rewrite fairy tales. (If there aren’t such classes…there should be.) Gaiman takes elements of the vampire myth and Snow White and turns them on each other, narrating the story from the point of view of the woman who, in the Disney story, is the witch. The narrator, married to the King and stepmother to his daughter (who killed her mother during birth), offers up descriptions of the vampire that are soothing to anyone frustrated by the number of sparkling Edward Cullen lookalikes in today’s literature. After the girl latches on to the narrator’s hand and sucks her blood, she writes, “I had been frozen by her, owned and dominated. That scared me, more than the blood she had fed on.”
It becomes the duty of the narrator, the Queen, to kill her vampire stepdaughter, but her attempts to do so are rife with missteps. Gaiman’s story is suffused with sadness, with this woman’s sense of loss over her inability to kill this “girl” who so easily dominates her. After describing what she would do, today, to the girl, had she only known, she writes, “I did not do this thing, and we pay for our mistakes.”
Gaiman’s story is stunning. Not a word is out of place. To put Snow White and vampires into one story is something that never would have occurred to me – but out of these tales he crafts something far more chilling than even an accomplished novel like Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire.