A TALE SO DARK AND LOVELY
Falling Snow: The strange dark circus is the only life she’s ever known—but is Snow a performer or a prisoner?
Raven’s Heir: Taking her in could risk the lives of his rebel band—but how can Damien leave the young woman at the huntsman’s mercy?
The Fairest One: Her people look for the prophesied Fairest One—but can Livna find courage to step out of the shadows and save her nation?
Red as Blood: He’s been hired to assassinate the princess, no questions asked—but how can Zaig take the life of one so young, so innocent?
Snowbird and the Red Slippers: She longs to be worthy of the scholarship that changed her life—but can Jeong Hayan survive the bitter rivalry of a prestigious New York dance school?
Experience the haunting beauty of Snow White in five thrilling retellings.
HERE IT IS. AT LAST. The fourth and final fairytale collection from Rooglewood Press! And what a collection to end with! I’ve been waiting foreverrr for this one, and it is finally here and is gorgeous and I’ve read it and loved it and YES. I simply adore these anthologies and am so sad they’re over, but AWK. They’re just so beautiful.
My reviews for previous collections:
(Except I still haven’t read Five Magic Spindles yet. Ooops!)
This collection really has something for everyone. Snow White has never really been one of my favorite fairytales, but these authors made me love it as they took the beautifully dark tale and reimagined it in such unique, beautiful ways.
by Skye Hoffert
When I got word that this was one of the stories chosen for the collection, saying I was excited is an understatement. I was SCREAMING. I’m still screaming!
Skye is not only one of the most precious people on this earth, she’s also a dear internet friend of mine. I got to beta-read this story in its early days and fell. in. love. I was not surprised a bit it got chosen. IT IS BRILLIANCE. And it’s surreal having my Skye published. SO PROUD.
AND THIS STORY, GUYS.
If you're looking for a gritty circus setting, snappy writing, electric characters, a plot that keeps your adrenaline rushing as fast as Snow's on the tightrope, and a brilliantly unique take on Snow White, this is it! I could seriously fangirl about this novella for days.
This story involves a creepy circus run by magical fae and just YES PLEASE.
I honest to goodness adored every single aspect of this story. The writing is quick and snappy and transports you so perfectly into the tale, you forget you're even reading. Not once did I have to pause to try to imagine the setting, but there were no over-the-top descriptions to be found. In a mere sentence or even a single word, this author managed to paint a perfect picture of the surroundings, the actions of the characters, even the tone, and tug at your heartstrings or quicken your heartbeat while she was at it. Then there was the fascinating plot that took the elements of the original Snow White story and flipped them on their head in such an original way. And the pacing was perfection.
But the true gold of this story is the CHARACTERS. Snow is broken and soft, yet absolutely feisty when she needed to be. This girl made my heart swell. I just wanted to hug her okay? Then there's Chayse, our male lead, who made my heart ache over all the burdens he bore and decisions he had to make. I don't want to say too much about him and spoil things but, trust me, you're going to fall in love. And last but deeefinitely not least is Cynfael. Ah, Cyn. Our charming scoundrel who keeps you on your toes from the moment he enters the pages. If for no other reason, read this story for Cynfael. You'll thank me later. Oh, and we can't forget the villain, the evil queen herself, who made my skin crawl. Just what you want in a fairytale!
Skye Hoffert is a word genius and captured me from page one with this brilliant tale.
I'd honestly purchase this anthology for this story alone. It was, without a doubt, my favorite of the collection.
There was quite a lot of drinking and smoking, and it seems like some of the characters use a bit of crude language. It really fit the gritty setting and brought it to life, so I didn’t mind. But do be warned if that’s not your thing.
by Jenelle Hovde
This one had such a beautiful writing style. It felt both historical and fairytale-like, at the same time, which was lovely.
There’s always one story in these collections that follows the closest to the original fairytale, and Raven’s Heir was that one for this anthology. But it took the events of the Snow White story and placed them in a rich, historical setting. Technically, it’s in a fantasy world, but you could tell this author knows her history, and it came out beautifully in the story.
The plot didn’t enrapture me quite as much with this one, as most of it was about the characters traveling, and then the ending was a little rushed. BUT our villain with her use of magic gave me chills (always the goal with a villain, especially when she’s the evil queen!) and Damien and Kara, our hero and heroine, were so kind and selfless, and their romance was one of the sweetest I’ve ever read. They were PRECIOUS! Also, the “dwarves” as a band of outlaws was clever, and had a very Robin Hoodish vibe which is ALWAYS a plus in my book.
Though a bit slow, the intriguing villain, sweet characters, and rich setting definitely made this a worthwhile read!
The villainess in this one uses some pretty dark magic, that involves chilling spirits. But the magic is definitely shown in a bad light.
THE FAIREST ONE
by Cortney Manning
*clutches heart* What an epic, sweeping tale! I’m not always the biggest fan of novellas because I never feel like there’s enough time to truly get to know the characters. Or the story is just too simple and straight forward. Well Cortney Manning threw that belief out the window.
The Fairest One feels like a great epic, in the span of just a few chapters. I don’t know how she did it but wow! The rich Middle/Near Eastern-type world comes alive in this one. Seriously, I just wanted to crawl into the storyworld (and I loved how it wasn’t your average medieval European setting too!). Livna, our heroine, was a sweet cinnamon roll who just wanted her father’s love and attention and to see her land safe. It was a delight seeing her grow and find her courage to stand up for her people. I felt for her SO MUCH, and was sad when the story was over, because I already miss her.
And the way the dwarves were portrayed. YES. Magical beings, and slaves to the “evil queen” character. So much originality there! One of the main characters, Oren, is a dwarf himself, and grumpy and sarcastic and totally great. All the characters really popped off the pages.
I loved how unique this one was, while also, somehow, staying so true to the original Snow White story. The twists this author put on Snow White were pure genius, and there was even a hint of Cinderella vibes going on which I loved. The stakes were HIGH in this one, and then the PLOT TWIST. Whoa. I was not expecting it.
Everything about this story was beautiful and brilliant and I loved every single word.
Other than some heart-pounding high-stakes, I don’t recall there being anything to worry about with this one? Lots of magic, but that’s to be expected with a Snow White collection.
RED AS BLOOD
by Maddie Morrow
This one may be my favorite after Falling Snow! (Though The Fairest One is fighting for second place as well.) Which is something because, erm, it involves vampires??? Nooottt my favorite subject. But but but THIS STORY!
The tale follows Zaig, an assassin, who is told by the queen herself to assassinate the princess, no questions ask. Well, you can imagine how well that goes.
It’s set in a gritty, Victorian-era-esque setting and oooooh it was deliciously chilling. I really enjoyed how the whole story was in the Huntsman’s POV and BE STILL MY BEATING HEART. Zaig was such an epic protagonist, I can’t even. His inner struggles felt so REAL, and he had a dash of snark to go with his charm. The perfect combination! All the side characters were just as intriguing as well.
Then the PLOT. Just wow. Part mystery, part thriller, part fairytale—this one had it all. I was hooked, and refused to put the book down until I had made it to the end. It surprised me in so many ways, and had my heart pumping from page one to the end.
Even if you’re not into vampires (I’m with you) still give this one a read! The writing style is beautiful, the characters come alive, and the twists are epic. Good grief, I loved it so much!
This one involves vampires so…it gets bloody. Very bloody, especially near the end. It’s also just pretty dark all the way around. If you’re squeamish, do be warned!
SNOWBIRD AND THE RED SLIPPERS
by Rachael Wallen
For the final novella, we take a bit of a different turn, as it’s a contemporary. BUT, it does have a hint of magical realism to it, which was fun.
This follows Snowbird, or Jeong Hayan, her real name, as she takes on a scholarship in a New York dance school. Though I’ve never been part of the ballet world, I’ve LOVED watching ballet since I was teeny tiny, so I was excited about a setting in a ballet school.
I 100% understand why this won a place in the collection. This author’s writing is astounding. With that said…it wasn’t my favorite. I have so many thoughts on this little story, that I don’t know if I can put into words.
My biggest dislikes were that I was just confused all the way through. I think it was the shortest of the collection, not giving us much time to really grasp everything going on, or to get to know the characters as well as we liked. Not only that, but almost the majority of the book is told, and so much of it talks about ballet and the scholarship and, since I’ve never been part of that world, I didn’t really get what all was going on. It’s so loaded with telling and lush descriptions, I felt like the plot got set on the backburner. Which is sad, because WHOA. This was a unique story, let me tell you!
At first, it doesn’t seem like a Snow White retelling at all, but THEN it ended up having more Snow White elements than all the others, including things involving ribbon and a comb, which people tend to skip over in Snow White retellings. Yet it also seemed to be much more heavily a retelling of a fairytale called The Red Shoes. Which I was perfectly fine with. Huzzah for retellings of obscure fairytales! But the Snow White elements are still there. In fact, Snow White and The Red Shoes have a couple of similar plot threads at the end, so I totally see why this author combined them. It worked perfectly! (Sorry, fairytale nerd. XD)
As I mentioned earlier, this author’s style is so rich and beautiful and unique, I definitely believe she deserved a spot in this collection. I think many people will LOVE this story, even though the style didn’t click with me. Despite that, it was the type of story that stayed with me long after I had finished. It was both beautiful and chilling, dark but thoughtful, and original all around. It’s the type of story you really just have to experience for yourself, and I definitely recommend doing so!
This story was just…chilling. The original The Red Shoes story (or Snow White for that matter) is, erm, not exactly a happy, fluffy tale, and neither is this one. I liked the whole unnerving chill surrounding the story. It added a heart-stopping mystery to the whole thing. But if you’re expecting some fluffy contemporary fairytale retelling then…you’re going to be surprised. That’s all I’ll say. XD
Overall, I found this an absolutely wonderful collection to end these anthologies with. I’m so sad the excitement of the contests is over and that we won’t be getting new, beautiful fairytale anthologies every year anymore, but it’s been wonderful while it’s lasted!
With a wide range of settings, plots, and protagonists, this really does have something for all the types of fairytale-lovers. I was enraptured by each unique story, loved seeing the utter originality put into reimagining Snow White, and am so glad I gave this a read!
Because any anthology with Falling Snow, The Fairest One, and Red as Blood deserves five stars. But Raven’s Heir and Snowbird and the Red Slippers were worth the read as well!
TALK WITH ME!
Have you read this collection? BECAUSE I NEED TO FANGIRL. If you have, which story was your favorite? If you haven’t, which one appeals to you the most? And who’s sad the Rooglewood Fairytale Contests are over??? *sniff, sniff* It’s been such a good time!