June 10, 2019

Book Review: Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss


A young woman hunts for her wayward shadow at the school where she  first learned magic—while another faces a test she never studied for as ice envelopes the world. The tasks assigned a bookish boy lead him to  fateful encounters with lizards, owls, trolls and a feisty, sarcastic cat. A bear wedding is cause for celebration, the spinning wheel and the tower in the briar hedge get to tell their own stories, and a kitchenmaid finds out that a lost princess is more than she seems. The sea witch reveals what she hoped to gain when  she took the mermaid’s voice. A wiser Snow White sets out to craft  herself a new tale.

In these eight stories and twenty-three poems, World Fantasy Award  winner Theodora Goss retells and recasts fairy tales by Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and Oscar Wilde.  Sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious, always lyrical, the works  gathered in Snow White Learns Witchcraft re-center and empower  the women at the heart of these timeless narratives. Science Fiction  and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Jane Yolen, in her  introduction, proclaims that Goss “transposes, transforms, and  transcends times, eras, and old tales with ease. But also there is a  core of tough magic that runs through all her pieces like a river  through Faerie . . . I am ready to reread some of my new favorites.”

1. Prepare to read a lot about bears.  

2. Don't buy "Red as Blood and White as Bone" separately as it is included in this collection.

3. Theodora Goss's fairy tales are dark and precious and no one else writes like her. 

"I'll learn the words to spells out of old books, grow poisonous herbs and practice curdling milk, cast evil eyes.  I'll summon a familiar: black cat or toad.  I'll tell my grandchildren fairy tales in which princesses slay dragons or wicked fairies live happily ever after. I'll talk to birds, and they'll talk back to me."

"What else should women do when they grow old and useless?  Become witches. It's the only role you get to write yourself."

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