A Comparative Review of Two Snow White Retellings

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 ⟡

SNOW WHITE

Snow White
Fritz
The Seven Warriors
Angel
The “mother”

BEGUILED

Princess Pearl
Prince Mikkel
Pearl’s band of Outcasts
Ruby
The “mother”

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 ⟡

SNOW WHITE

Her clothing
An apple
Point of Views
Angel

BEGUILED

Her clothing
No apple
Point of Views
Ruby

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

Do you like this kind of blog post? Please let me know in the comments below
or simply like this post. It’ll really help me out!


Three Blog Ideas That Failed

Blogging. It’s such an obscure topic. What works for one may not work for all. Bloggers who’ve been around five or more years have established followers and loyal readers, so they know what their audience looks for. Each website creator has their own niche of interests, and their content reflects that.

Niche /niCH,nēSH/ – adj. – denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population

Source – Google Search

This site began in 2016. Its intent – a place where we can collectively share writing experiences and maybe, just maybe, the things I’ve learned along the way can help someone else. Speaking of, here are three blog ideas that failed on anotherhartmanauthor.com over the past four years.


A MONTHLY NEWSLETTER
I’m not yet an established author, so I don’t even know why I thought I’d quickly gain readership with an e-newsletter. I don’t have a degree in English Lit. I’m not an experienced historian. I haven’t worked in publishing. Hence I had little to contribute to a market already saturated with e-newsletters. The extra work accomplished but one thing: it was an effective manuscript diversion and everyone knew it. Readers are savvy folks, dontcha know?

Any time you think to add one more task, ask if it’ll interfere with your writing goals. It it does, reevaluate. It might be a worthy addition later on.

SHORT STORY SERIES
Roughly two years ago I attempted posting a short story series. I’ve thought a lot about its concept – Could it work as a subplot for my WIP? Could I eventually have it published on its own in some magazine? Is the story even worth exploring? While I kept the story within my chosen genre and era (Victorian historical adventure), it was nothing but a procrastination method. Just as the e-newsletter was. It kept me from concentrating on my actual goals.

I am, in no way, saying you can’t have multiple projects running at one time. Do what works for you. And I can only concentrate on one story and one alone. Who knows? Perhaps my writing multitasking will improve as I grow my craft.

BOOK REVIEWS
If you know me, you’ll know that I’m the least opinionated person in my family. When I am, it’s because I absolutely love something and will sing its praises. That’s why I’m the worst book reviewer. Personally, it’s a strange feeling to say anything negative about someone else’s hard work.

At first it wasn’t too much of a problem. That is, until writer friends asked me to review their newly published books. While I appreciated their faith in me, I found I couldn’t properly review without bias. They say to bookend a con with two pros. But what does one do if there are more cons than pros? No. I couldn’t carry on with the reviews. Besides, there are more people out there with stronger voices than I.


We creatives can be very emotional creatures, can’t we? I’ve included myself in that because I know just how defensive I can sometimes get when someone critiques my work.

Remember – anything you put online is a reflection of your business. That’s right. Business. Creating content is a physical representation and extension of yourself as a writer. Removing emotion from your business is easier said than done. It’s perfectly normal to feel dejected when something doesn’t quite work out the way you wanted it to.

It’ll take time for you to find your niche, but there’s absolutely no harm in trying something new!


Book Review | Christmas by the Lighthouse

In this new realm of reviewing books, I have to constantly remind myself that I’m not going to love every book I read, be it from the library, a second hand book store, ARCs for review from NetGalley, or directly from the authors themselves.

I received CHRISTMAS BY THE LIGHTHOUSE as an ARC from NetGalley. This did not affect my review.

*Future Leigh here: this review was particularly difficult to write.

With CHRISTMAS BY THE LIGHTHOUSE by Rebecca Boxall, I didn’t fully dislike it, as it does highlight classic struggles of human nature. There are just a few things I’d like to touch upon before I go about deciding if I should recommend this book or not.

Settings
Setting description is one of Ms. Boxall’s strengths. The main settings described in CHRISTMAS BY THE LIGHTHOUSE are gorgeous – the lighthouse, the cottages and locations around Jersey. Being from England herself, I wonder if it’s a place she knows. As much as I want to visit places like this I hate being close to open water. So I live vicariously through books.

Characters
Although the story centered around Summer and Jude, they felt just as two-dimensional as the rather large supporting cast. They say that every person you meet influences your life in some way or another. Jude certainly went on a journey (all I can say without giving away any spoilers), and there is a twist at the end.

Overall Flow
Things pick up in the second half of the tale. While there’s some fabulous scenes centered around connections characters have with World War Two, the slow pace of the first part nearly made me put down the book.

I couldn’t get behind with how nonchalant many of the supporting characters were of Summer’s marital status and her growing interest in Jude. I get that this is a work of fiction, but it bothered me that Summer’s husband kept “apologizing” as well. For these reasons, and the slow pace, I’ve given CHRISTMAS BY THE LIGHTHOUSE three out of five stars.

STRENGTHS: Conversation and Description,.

RATING: THREE out of FIVE stars

Christmas by the Lighthouse releases in Sept. 2019

Here’s just a bit of the journal page I made so I could easily take down my thoughts for this review. It’s a hobby I’ve always enjoyed doing and I wanted to start sharing images of what I create with the posts. I hope you enjoy!