Reviewer: JESSE WILLIAM OLSON
Book: Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente
Why am I reading it? Rachel (my wife) saw it on the shelf at B&N and it caught her eye. She recommended it, and I read it.
Thoughts: Sure, this is a retelling of the Snow White fairy tale, but it’s a fair bit deeper and more innovative than you might assume, and not just because the title character has a gem-studded pistol and no real second thoughts about beating you in a fist-fight — or a gun fight — should the need arise.
This book is short, brutal, poetic, strong, and abstract. It’s an Old West style fairy tale dealing with questions of identity, race (the half-white half-Crow MC was bathed in ice-milk and scrubbed violently by a step-mother who intended to lighten her skin color a few shades in order to make her proper and beautiful), family, abuse, and self-reliance.
This is one of those books that makes it clear that fiction and fantasy can often approach truth better, having left realism behind.
Recommendations: Read it. It’s short, quick, quirky, and will stick in your head. Need a strong female character? Check. Need a book with some attitude that will keep you hooked? Check. Want to leave current events behind and explore something beyond your existence, but still read something meaningful? Check. I might not recommend reading it to your kids as a bed time story, though. Make sure you’re fine with the language and content first.
Jesse Olson teaches 10th grade English in State College, PA and enjoys creative writing, sword-fighting, and exploring.