The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith
What happens when “happily ever after” has come and gone?
On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven’s wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven’s fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White’s own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing:
The king is dead.
The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.
It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what “happily ever after” really means?
Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White.
This one is another book I read in exchange for an honest review.
On first look, The Reflections of Queen Snow White is right up my alley. I absolutely adore books/movies/television shows that are re-tellings/reworkings/what-have-you of common tales or fairy tales. However, once I began reading, one thing struck me very clearly from the very start of the book.
That is, David Meredith’s style of writing is best summed up in three (alliterative) words: “Pretty Purple Prose.”
Purple Prose is regularly agreed to be prose that is flowery and extravagant (often to the detriment of the story) and heavy handed with usage of adjectives and metaphors.
Generally speaking, I prefer my stories to be nitty-gritty and get straight to the point. And at first, I thought this manner of prose was going to be tiresome. However, as I read, I realized that this wasn’t a story that would “get straight to the point.” The Reflections of Queen Snow White is just that: a collection of her (with a little help from The Mirror) reflecting on her life and the events that led up to where she is now.
Now, all of this makes it a book that is far removed from what I usually read. I like action and adventure and excitement and stakes.
However, this is the first book in a long while, that has actually and fully made me cry. Though there is no true adventure, at least in the traditional sense, there is change, and there are stakes.
Snow White changes, and you can see that very clearly. Perhaps even more clearly than in my preferred “action-packed” adventure novels. The stakes, while not clear, I understood at the end. If she hadn’t changed, she would forever stay a “wraith,” estranged from her daughter and from her people. Alive, but not living.
I’m rating this 5 stars out of 5.
(And broadening my horizons, by looking for more books that house internal, rather than external, conflict.)
About the Author
David Meredith is a writer and educator originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. He recieved both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, Tennessee as well as a Tennessee State Teaching license. On and off, he spent nearly a decade, from 1999-2010 teaching English in Northern Japan, but currently lives with his wife and three children in the Nashville Area where he continues to write and teach English.
I know, I know. It’s been over a month since my last post (barring the book review I wrote yesterday. Speaking of which, go look at it, check out the book, it’s amazing.)
I was born on Xoatl- that’s pronounced Show-Tull- but I do not consider it home. I am a Wanderer, chosen to map the Fragments and categorize what I find on each; every language and people, every habitat and architecture, every magic and science.
Chosen by whom?
I… no longer recall. It has been many a year since I started this journey and know only that I am nowhere near it’s end. It is a lonely existence sometimes, to be sure, but I do not hate it. Few remember me but in passing- such is the fate of a Wanderer- and I have met no others like me. It has crossed my mind a time or two to envy the friendships and relationships of mortals, but my purpose fulfills me.
But that is enough about me. No one cares about the Storyteller afterall, it is all about the story.
This was a bit of an exercise to figure out the narrator and voice for a Big Project I’ve been working on for about a month… It will not be written in first person, rather a Limited Third person- which is new for me. Normally I write in third person omniscient, giving looks and glimpses into the thoughts and feelings of the main POV characters.
The Bottle Stopper by Angeline Trevana
“Too much trouble, and you’ll end up just like your crazy mother.”
Maeve was six when they took her mother away, and left her in the care of her Uncle Lou: a drunk, a misogynist, a fraud.
For eleven years she’s lived with him in Falside’s slums, deep in the silt of the Falwere River. She bottles his miracle medicine, stocks his apothecary shop, and endures his savage temper.
But as his violence escalates, and his lies come undone, she devises a plan to escape him forever. Even if it means people have to die.
A dark and gripping thriller set in a future dystopia. If you like stories of oppressive governments, genetic selection, mass murder, and the fight for freedom, if you look for unlikely heroes and always root for the underdog, you’ll love The Bottle Stopper.
The Bottle Stopper started a little slow for me. In fact, were it not for the fact I promised a review of the book, I may have stopped reading it altogether before I made it to the first quarter mark. However, now that I’ve finished it, I’m glad I stuck with it and am heartily looking forward to the second book, The Matching, which is due to be available this spring.
The Bottle Stopper is definitely very dark, with no holds barred when it comes to abuse, death, secrets and lies. Angeline’s style of writing is easy to fall into, though for me, the physical descriptions of Falside could be expanded upon more. (Though, this is purely due to personal preference). While I could picture the apothecary and the bakery and individual places, the city as a whole somehow seems to escape my grasp.
There is a certain death at… around the 1/3 mark (one of many), that leaves the protagonist, Maeve, with feelings of (misplaced) guild and remorse, as well as (righteous) hatred for her uncle Lou. However, to me as the reader, the death didn’t have as big an impact. The character was there, and present, and was friends with Maeve, but I just never came to care about the character. That death could have been much better handled. I feel like that death had as much impact as the numerous others that are detailed in the remainder of the book.
Now, recall how I said the beginning of the story started slow? I figured out why it seemed that way at around the halfway point. Angeline reveals little tidbits of truth through the novel. So, obviously, at the beginning, we know little about the circumstances surrounding Maeve, other than she was left with her abusive uncle. (At this point in the book, all we are meant to do is form an attachment to Maeve; and, I’ll be honest, I flinched or cringed every time Uncle Lou became angry.)
Through the remaining book, we are given snippets of other’s lives, and how the actions of this one little slip of a girl on the Floor can have far reaching consequences. Not only that, but we are introduced to some other characters and, rather late in the book, are given more snippets of truth regarding Maeve’s mother, and father, and the bookshop, and everything starts coming together like the pieces of a puzzle.
Despite the slow start and everything, I love, Love, LOVE the setting, and the characters, and the questions. And I’m giving it Five out of Five stars. Amazing, no question.
About the Author:
(Image used from her website linked above.)
Born and bred in a rural corner of Devon, Angeline now lives among the breweries and canals of central England. She is a horror and fantasy author, poet, and journalist.
In 2003 she graduated from Edge Hill University, Lancashire, with a BA Hons degree in Drama and Writing. During this time she finally decided that her future lay in writing words rather than performing them.
The most unlikely of horror writers, Angeline is scared of just about everything, still can’t sleep in a fully dark room, and goes weak at the mere sight of blood.
Still religiously checks the back of every wardrobe she comes across for a passage to Narnia.
Alright, guys, normally when I start these, I have some idea of what the scene or characters or setting is going to look like. This time, however, I’ve got nada so this is going to be pure Stream of Conscious.
Shattered glass, streaking through the sky like diamonds. But no, that was the sky, and it was falling. Hurtling towards her and threatening to shred her to pieces.
Daia hurtled out of bed with a gasp, hand reaching for a weapon she obviously wasn’t wearing. Her breath came in heaving gasps and sweat soaked her brow and back. What… what was that just now? It was no normal dream. It was…
“You alright, Day?”
She sneered. That voice. It always sounded as though he were hiding a laugh. At her expense.
“Fine, Strait.” She forced herself straight, releasing the fist her hand was clenched into.
Daia swallowed a biting comment about normal people respecting boundaries, and instead pushed past him towards the small en suite bathroom her room included. Luckily, when she turned the tap, the water came out in sputtering bursts. But it worked. Splashing her face with the lukewarm liquid helped very little, but at least Strait had left.
Huh. Not sure who Day and Strait are, but I think they may be Shadow Runners.
I’m bad at writing every day, I think we all know this to be true. But… well here’s today’s Free Writing.
Darkness closed in around her like it was a physical thing. Her movements turned sluggish and her thoughts refused to flow, sticking somewhere between their formation and execution. A tendril of it snaked its way through her pores and wrapped her heart and lungs in a vice until she felt as though she would simply pop from the pressure. No matter how she thrashed and flexed and fought, her hands and feet met no resistance. There was nothing to fight.
Her screams of pain, anger, and pleading were all swallowed before they even made it to her own ears. There would be no help coming. Could she escape before-
Arms wrapped around her chest and suddenly she was thrust into waking.
“Jesus, Caroline,” a breathless voice cursed in her ear. “When you said nightmares, I didn’t think you meant night terrors.”
“S- Sorry.” Her knees curled instinctively to her chest as the arms released her. It took a moment, but eventually she realized where she was and who she was with.
She could feel his gaze on her, but she didn’t look up, focusing on regulating her breathing and heart rate for the moment.
“Sorry, Gerald,” she murmured again. “They’ve been getting… worse.”
“Well,” he began with a sigh. “I’d be more worried if you had told me that that one was mild.”
Caroline managed a dry chuckle, but there was no mirth there.
“What- that is, if you don’t mind me asking- what do you see?” His voice had dropped and she shivered slightly, feeling a tendril of cold air on her exposed neck.
“I don’t remember,” she lied in a hoarse whisper. “I don’t think I want to.”
Finally, she raised her gaze and looked at him. If she knew him half as well as she thought… well, his gaze said he didn’t buy her lie in the slightest. But, thankfully, he didn’t press.
“Go ahead and get some more sleep,” she muttered as she stood and stretched, eyeing the still darkened window. “I’ll finish the watch.”
While I would like to continue or explore the characters and whatnot from yesterday, something has been itching in the back of my mind in relation to my current WIP. The City Of Angels: Book 1. (It will have a proper title, I just haven’t decided on it, yet. I have three to choose from at the moment.)
Cecilia woke to pain. That in itself was nothing new. Every day she woke to some form of it or another. Whether it was hunger or thirst, or something more immediate like cold, or a bruise or broken bone from a punishment doled out by her brother, Kirke.
This pain, though, this was worse.
The cut in her forearm, what had looked so… minor just a few days earlier, now burned. Placing her left hand on the skin, she felt a heat rising from the limb that was wrong. The stitches that had roughly sewn the abrasion closed were almost unnoticeable in the depths of the swelling.
Taking stock of her surroundings, she found the alley they had slept in empty of everything but the trash that she had laid upon and under in order to keep warm. Kirke was nowhere to be seen.
Cecilia hissed as she sat up, a piece of the ragged blanket pulling at the enflamed skin of her right arm. The pain shifted to a dull ache, though it spread nearly all the way to her shoulder now. Gritting her teeth, she pulled the ratty blanket around her shoulders as a makeshift shawl. Keeping her back bowed, she made her way onto the crowded streets of the First Ring slums.
After a time, she came to an alley much like the one she had left, though the trash was pushed to the side. At the deadend- where the alley met the Outer Wall- a man lounged. His eyes narrowed as he took in the child’s disheveled appearance, but he made neither comment nor movement.
“Need a doc,” the girl whispered hoarsely.
His nose wrinkled. “Payment?”
He sighed. “Look kid-“
He cut off sharply as she pushed her arm out of the blanket. To Cecilia, the cool air was as if the limb had been doused in chilled water. It hurt. Creator’s it hurt. But she could not show it. ‘Show no weakness,’ Kirke’s words echoed in her mind.
“Please,” she managed between gritted teeth. “It just gotta be gone. Don’t even need no pain med.”
The man eyed the limb dubiously.
“I’ll do anythin’,” she added.
The words brought his eyes back to her face.
“Very well,” he finally acquiesced. “I may know someone needin’ somethin done. Favor for a favor, aye?”
He ducked through a doorway to his left and Cecilia let her legs crumple, head leaning back against the building as she focused on her breathing. Anything to keep the pain at bay. ‘Kirke is gon be mad,’ her mind whispered. ‘You weren’ s’pose to leave.’ She shook her head to erase the thoughts.
She may only have been nine years old, but she knew the arm would only slow her- and by association, Kirke- down on the streets. Though losing an arm would be a handicap, she knew plenty of cripples on the First Ring that survived without limbs. It would make begging easier, if nothing else.
Not what I was hoping to get out of today, but I suppose it’s a start.
A little explanation first.
And a greetings.
I’m back to writing, and this time I’m going to try to keep up with my blog posts, but I make no promises. As the more I learn about the craft, the more I realize, I don’t have advice to give.
But anyway. As an exercise before I begin my writing each day (with a goal of 5k words a week I WILL be writing nearly every day) I will spend 15 minutes free writing. Writing almost stream of conscious. Though, I don’t know if any of my writing could ever be TRULY stream of conscious, as I edit it in the space of time it takes to get from my head to my fingers. But, such is life.
When she spoke, it was as though her she were removed from the situation; as though nothing that was happening affected her in the slightest. There was no emotion, no feeling, no soul in her voice. As Ja’ahrek kneeled in front of her and peered into her face, he found it to mirror her voice. A blank expression matched her blank voice and vacant eyes stared through him sightlessly.
Grasping her arm, she still did not move. Not to shake him off, not to meet or avoid his gaze. This was not the Ma’arina he knew. For the first time in many years- too many to count- Ja’ahrek felt fear; the good and proper kind that raised his flesh in bumps as the chill of it worked it’s way down his spine.
“Jinelle,” his voice cracked slightly and he had to clear his throat before he could speak without wavering. “Take that thing off of her.”
The woman with him snapped a smart salute and, letting her rifle hang loose on it’s shoulder strap, she stepped closer to the still woman and reached for the amulet that still gave off it’s even, blue glow. The snap of breaking bone and flesh echoed through the small chamber and it took a moment for Ja’ahrek to put together what had happened. Ma’arina, moving so quickly that neither soldier had time to react, had broken Jinelle’s arm before her fingers made it within a foot of the amulet.
True to her training, however, Jinelle didn’t make a single sound of pain even as she cradled the broken arm to her chest.
As the word came to his lips unbidden, Jinelle raised an eyebrow. Come to think of it, he’d never cursed in her presence, had he? No, of course not. Since they’d met he’d been in the position of her superior. He ignored her look and stepped closer. At his gesture she proffered her arm. Though she still made no sound of pain, he saw the wince that she tried to hide.
Scowling, he examined the limb without touching it. It appeared to be broken at the midway point between the wrist and the elbow. Though blood obscured much of the skin, he could see the end of a pale bone peering from the flesh and he had to force down bile.
Well that’s my time, and I think I may have to continue this little piece tomorrow. I’m intrigued.