Once upon a time there was a mirror. . . .
So begins this dark, unusual retelling of the story of Snow White by the writer reviewers have called "the Angela Carter of the fantasy field"—a whole novel based on a beloved story, turning it into a dark and sensual drama full of myth and magic.
Arpazia is the aging queen who paces the halls of a warlord's palace. Cold as winter, she has only one passion—for the mysterious hunter who courts the outlawed old gods of the woodland. Coira is the princess raised in the shadow of her mother's hatred. Avoided by both her parents and half forgotten by her father's court, she grows into womanhood alone . . . until the mirror speaks, and blood is spilled, and the forest claims her.
The tragic myth of the goddess Demeter and her daughter, Persephone, stolen by the king of the underworld, is woven together with the tale of Snow White to create a powerful story of mothers and daughters and the blood that binds them together, for good or ill. Black queen. White maid. Royal huntsman. Seven little folk who live in the forest. Come inside, sit by the fire, and listen to this fairy tale as you've never heard it told before.
Once upon a time there was a mirror, and a girl as white as snow. . . .
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Horror and fantasy veteran Lee, author of such adult fairy tale collections as Red as Blood and Forests of the Night, offers an enticingly dark and seductive reworking of "Snow White" that echoes the macabre ambience of the Brothers Grimm. Drawing on the sex and violence implicit in the original fairy tale, Lee gives a modern, introspective angle to the classic story. The evil queen, Arpazia, first appears as an innocent princess of 14, who is terrified when Draco, a rising new leader, conquers her father's castle and rapes her. Soon after he has her sister, Lilca, hanged because Lilca betrayed the castle. Draco forces Arpazia to travel with him and his barbaric army. She later bears him a girl, Candacis, whom she immediately shuns as an incarnation of evil, mumbling death spells as the infant tries to suckle her. Lee casts the evil queen in a sympathetic light, depicting her as a tortured soul who in later years begins to question her dark fate. With its melancholy shading, Lee's new twist on an old tale is sure to engage fans of dark fantasy.