Howdy, howdy! It’s the last Wednesday of the month, which means it’s book review time! Didn’t I just do this? Seems like it, but that was just to make up for January. February gets its own book. This month, I’m going to talk about Snow White Learns Witchcraft, which is a collection of short stories and poems by Theodora Goss. Technically, I received access to an advanced reader copy (ARC) through NetGalley, but they archived it without warning a few days after the approval and I hadn’t downloaded it yet. Sadness. Then, I realized it was releasing on February 5th, so I would have plenty of time to buy a copy and read it in time to review it. Happiness! Anyway, let’s get to it.
Snow White Learns Witchcraft is a little misleading as a title for the entire collection because Snow White isn’t the only fairy tale revisited among these pieces. Goss adds her own personal touch as she retells many beloved tales from Goldilocks to the Little Mermaid to Cinderella to some that I’m not even familiar with. A mixture of poetry and short stories, this collection is sure to have something for all fairy tale lovers to get lost in.
I think I’ll start with the short stories. My personal favorite was “Conversations with the Sea Witch,” but I admit that I’m biased because the Little Mermaid happens to be my favorite fairy tale. It tells the story of an old crippled woman who has lived her happy life with her prince and is now awaiting death. Each day her servants wheel her out on the balcony for fresh air and she has conversations with her friend, the sea witch who gave her legs. We get to hear about the witch and how she ended up the way she is. It’s a neat, quick story. Most of the stories in this collection come at their mother fairy tales from new and interesting directions. Some are set in olden times while others are in the present and many are somewhere between the two. Many of the tales are quick reads, but some drag a little. I think that’s why “A Country Called Winter” wasn’t as enjoyable as others for me; it felt slow. It was one of the tales I wasn’t familiar with, but it was predictable enough that I wasn’t pulled along the way I would have been if I didn’t know what was going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I liked this story (and all the others), it simply wasn’t my favorite.
The poetry in this collection was wonderful. “The Ogress Queen” delights the senses as she ponders what delicacies Helios, Aurora, and their mother would taste like. “Diamonds and Toads” offers up an amusing situation that leaves the reader with a number of potential lessons it could be trying to teach. I’d like to believe it’s showing us that every bad situation has a potential upside if you’re willing to look for it. Like all fairy tales, each poem leaves us with a lesson. Some of these, the speaker comes right out and says, others we have to dig for.
The writing in this collection is as varied as the stories and poems. Goss captures each voice like she’s the sea witch. As I said earlier, the pace changes from piece to piece, but all in all this was a fast and fun read.
Ultimately, I’m happy that I went ahead and bought Snow White Learns Witchcraft. Fairy tales are some of my favorite reading material. This book was worth adding to my collection.
Overall, I gave this collection 4 out of 5 stars. I wavered between four and five because I always expect to not enjoy some pieces as much as others when reading a collection like this, so I shouldn’t let that affect my decision, right? But I settled on four because it seemed fair and true to how I felt about everything. If you like fairy tales, check this book out!